Archive from January, 2016
Jan 29, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Family split after girl, 5, is ‘banned’

29 January 2016 – Cape Times
STRICT enforcement of immigration rules has caused a family to be split between South Africa and Israel, after their youngest daughter was banned from entering the country for five years.
Yaron Schapiro says he and his wife had two children, and left to live in Israel in 2008 to look after his mother who was in her twilight years. While in that country, they had their daughter Noa on January 28, 2010.
Thinking that she was a citizen by virtue of being the child of two South African parents, they never registered her with the South African embassy in Tel Aviv.
In the meantime Noa got an Israeli passport as a dual citizen, and travelled back and forth to South Africa with that document.
“We came back last year, and Noa came in with an Israeli passport. They (immigration) stamped the passport and did not tell me anything,” said Schapiro.
While settling back in South Africa, where he owns a business, Schapiro and his wife Jessica had to find new schools for their children, a house and renew their South African driving licences. It never dawned on them that there could be a wrangle over Noa’s immigration status in South Africa being in dispute.
“I never thought about it, I did so much bureaucracy (getting the children into school and driver’s licences). If I knew I would (have to change Noa’s immigration status, I would have) run to Home Affairs to fix it,” said Schapiro.
He said he had enquired about his daughter’s status with the South African embassy in Tel Aviv and they told him he could “sort it out in South Africa”.
In 2013 the law on birth registrations was amended and the new regulations came into force on March 1, 2014, which states the birth of a South African child has to be registered within a period of 30 days. “We went to Mauritius in December 2015 on holiday and had no concept of any problem whatsoever. We tried to leave the country and they stopped her and said ‘No, she overstayed her visa and is now declared an undesirable’.”
He said the immigration official who made the decision should have been more thoughtful, considering both Noa’s parents are South African, and ordering a five-year-old out of the country did not make any sense.
Schapiro had to send his wife and daughter back to Israel at great expense, while he and his two older daughters, one of who is deaf, had to stay behind in Cape Town.
His 10-year-old daughter can only sign in Hebrew and his wife is the only one who can communicate with her.
She is being taught to sign in English and has had to get a tutor to help home school her because she is unable to attend regular school.
Department of Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete said Noa’s situation could still be salvaged and the department would investigate the case.

Jan 28, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

‘Stop block on foreigners’

25 January, 2016 – Times Live
Thousands of foreign entrepreneurs would flock into the country – if only they could.
But mudslinging between government and immigration firms over bureaucracy and alleged profiteering are hindering the influx of immigrants, many of whom have critical skills.
The alleged blocking of immigrants must be balanced with the , country’s interests, the government says.
The immigration policies imposed by the South African government at the end of 2014 have drawn sharp criticism. But the government says it is targeting dodgy immigration lawyers.
For years immigration firms have cried foul over issues, such as immigrants wanting to open businesses in South Africa having to have R5-million and 60% of their staff having to be South Africans.
They are also upset about the department’s critical skills visa list.
Tracy du Plessis, Forum of Immigration Practioners vice-chairman, said the 2014 amended immigration Act made it difficult for foreign nationals to work in the country.
There is no communication on recommendations for a business visa applicant until after the application is made.
“The department’s reasoning is to stop fraud,” Du Plessis said.
Immigration expert Leon Isaacson of Global Migration SA said there were inconsistencies in processing visas, especially critical skills visas.
“The list was drawn up in haste. Professions, such as maths and science teachers, which the country has a 60000 to 80000 shortfall of, are not included.”
Bjorn van Niekerk, Integrated-Immigration director, said sections of the immigration legislation needed reviewing.
“There are serious barriers, including the massive increase in incorrect adjudications and baseless rejections.”
Home Affairs spokesman Mayihlome Tshwete said “middle-men” were misinterpreting policies aimed at assisting immigrants.
“There is a lot of corruption. We have lawyers under investigation. In the past people came to establish phantom companies, sometimes to launder money. We had to change our policies.”
• Thousands of South Africans living in the UK face deportation. In April, the UK is set to pass an immigration regulation affecting millions of non-EU state immigrants. Those affected are likely to be semi-skilled workers earning less £35000 annually.

Jan 28, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Zimbabwe to introduce Chinese currency

Tourism Update – 23/1/2016

Chinese tourists will now be able to pay for services in Zimbabwe using the yuan.
Zimbabwe has signed an agreement with China that will see the Chinese currency, the yuan, being used for public transactions in Zimbabwe, according to a report by Reuters Africa.
According to the report, the use of the yuan will help the country to pay off its debt to China, which stands at $40 million. (R668 million).
Francis Ngwenya, President of the Zimbabwe Tourism Council, told Tourism Update that Chinese tourists would soon be able to pay for services in Zimbabwe using the yuan, however he added that it would take time to distribute the currency through the banks. No timeline for the introduction of the yuan has been set and tour operators and product owns in Zimbabwe contacted by Tourism Update said they were unaware of the development.
Ngwenya said the introduction of the yuan would help to grow the Chinese market and that currency risk would subsequently be removed from the tourism packages to China.
“Zimbabwe is a multi-currency country and the introduction of the yuan will create easier pricing options and businesses will be able to have rand, dollar and yuan accounts.”

Jan 28, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Verified stats: SA sees continued tourism decline

20 Jan 2016 – Tourism Update

At the end of October, arrivals from the US, UK and Germany were down year to date by 7%, 2% and 9% respectively.
Overseas arrivals to SA were down 8% year to date at the end of October, according to figures released by Stats SA this week. SA’s biggest source markets, the US, UK and Germany are down year to date, by 7%, 2% and 9% respectively.
David Frost, CEO of SATSA, says that this unprecedented decline comes at a time when SA should be showing growth out of these markets. According to him, the decline out of the US and Europe in particular is the result of SA’s current brand positioning. Frost says there has been a succession of negative reports about South Africa, not related to tourism necessarily, but none the less doing damage to the country’s brand positioning. He suggests that the public and private sector needs to harness all its resources to arrest this decline.
However, while overseas arrivals to SA continued to show decline, the latest stats suggest that the decline is slowing. During October, overseas arrivals decreased 0,1% year on year. This compares to a year on year decline of 3% in September, 11% in August and 13% in July. Frost said this was likely because of the exchange rate.
Department of Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba last week hailed SA’s peak tourism season, suggesting that foreign arrivals were up 7% year on year for the period of December 1 to January 7. However, Tourism Update readers questioned these figures, pointing out that they had yet to be verified and published by Stats SA, while it was also necessary to distinguish between foreign arrivals and actual tourists. Stats SA has not published arrival stats past October.
While Gigaba emphasised the growth over the recent peak season, which he said included an 8% increase out of North America and a 6% increase out of Europe, Frost argues that for the last three months, SA should have experienced double digit growth out of these markets given the exchange rate. He pointed out that in the last three months, the rand has depreciated 44% against the dollar and 38% against the pound

Jan 28, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Growth potential for Halal Tourism in Western Cape

20 Jan 2016 – Tourism Update

With a large local Malay community, Cape Town is well on its way to be an attractive destination to the Islamic market.
There is a strong opportunity for tourism businesses in the Western Cape and Cape Town to invest in the Islamic market and halal tourism, according to Nahla Mesbah, Senior Associate at Dinar Standard.
Mesbah was recently hosted by Wesgro during a Halal Tourism Workshop in Cape Town and shared facts, insights, figures, and successful case studies to help tourism business in the province take advantage of this market.
Studies compiled by Dinar Standard in 2014 revealed that the global Islamic market spent approximately $142 billion (€130 billion) on travel, positioning it in third position globally behind China and the United States, which during the same period spent $160 billion (€147 billion) and $143 billion (€131 billion) respectively.
“The Middle East and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are notoriously big spenders and there is a strong opportunity for Cape Town and the Western Cape to appeal to this market. Although only making up 3% of the global Muslim population, the GCC represented 37% of Muslim travel spend in 2014. A positive for the host destination is that these travellers prefer to stay in a destination for up to three to four weeks at a time, translating into bigger spend,” said Mesbah.
Wesgro CMO, Judy Lain, said: “Part of Wesgro’s role is to help industry take advantage of growth opportunities. One of the ways in which we do this is by knowledge sharing.”

Jan 22, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

Open letter to the head of Home Affairs

22 January 2016 – cxpress
I want you to know that you have an exceptional employee, Nokohwaba Mtonjeni, in your Home Affairs department in Plett. Her calm, patient manner was a great help to me when my frustration was at an all-time high. Her knowledge and her remarkable problem-solving abilities are rare indeed.
When discovering that my children’s passports had expired and that they could not be renewed unless my husband was present, she assured me with great confidence that there was sufficient time to get my children’s passports prior to our departure a few days later.
I applied for the passports on December 21 and was very grateful to receive an SMS to collect the passports on January 6, as our departure overseas was but a couple of days hence.
Nokohwaba’s abilities were further proven on the day when the passports were due for collection. I arrived at Home Affairs with at least seven people in line waiting to be helped and only Nokohwaba on duty.
It was quite something to see her calm demeanour and her multi-skilling abilities as she assisted three clients simultaneously. She took the time to ensure that everybody received her full attention and did not make anybody feel rushed.
Her loving nature shone through when explaining the requirements and forms to be completed to various people in front of me. This in itself showed me a woman who really cares – a stark contrast to the cold, unfriendly service one experiences all too often.
I also would like you to know that I had bought Nokohwaba a box of biscuits as I was so appreciative for her help. Nokohwaba kindly and diplomatically refused to accept my small gift due to policy.
I understand the policy but feel that if I can make a difference for her in some way by writing this letter and sharing it with CXPRESS – as she has made a huge difference for me and my family – then I will be most appreciative.
If the quality of a firm’s employees is an indication of future success, then Home Affairs has a very bright future indeed.
Cristina Botha, Plett

Jan 22, 2016 - Business Permit    No Comments

How SA can win back its global mojo: Tourism Red Tape Initiative

Jan 12 2016 – Fin24
It makes sense (of sorts) that tourism in South Africa today attracts far more foreign exchange than gold mining, once the mainstay of the South African economy. And that special tourism markets that have developed, including medical tourism, continue to benefit the economy. And while the complicated visa documents requirements for travellers with minor children could have put a real damper on the industry, all the signs are that the red tape involved hasn’t – even if more by luck than good judgment, and the ever weakening Rand that makes South Africa even more of a desirable destination. Here, tourism lecturer at Tshwane University of Technology Unathi Sonwabile Henama makes the case for a full-on Tourism Red Tape Initiative by the government to identify bottlenecks that impede the growth of tourism as a bottom- ups approach from each municipality to province, and work towards a national strategy. That will only increase the goodwill out there, and ensure that this country’s natural beauty and hospitable people continue to draw maximum benefit from hosting travellers from all corners of the globe. – Marika Sboros
By Unathi Sonwabile Henama*
When the White Paper on the Promotion and Development of Tourism in South Africa was adopted in 1996, it was envisioned that there would be a separate Ministry of Tourism. After the 2009, President Jacob Zuma announced a separate Ministry and Department of Tourism so that tourism can get dedicated attention.
Tourism has been growing since 1994 and its contribution to the Gross Domestic Product will increase – if steps and strategies are put in place to grow tourism.
Tourism today attracts more foreign exchange than gold mining, which was once the mainstay of the South African economy. There are several special tourism markets that are benefiting the economy such as medical tourism that has ensured that there is less brain drain from medical professionals.
The 2010 World Cup was able to bring in many visitors to South Africa that have seen our beautiful land and took back the memories to their respective countries. All corners of the world know South Africa and the country has benefited with a positive image. We even had a better World Cup than Brazil, and our stadium are theatres of beauty. South Africa is really a country of winners, but from time to time, reflection is imperative.
Visa cloud’s silver lining
2015 was possibly the best year for tourism in South Africa, though it might not have appeared so on the surface. The fact that the visa regulations were implemented led to a national conversation about the tourism industry that has never occurred before. As the saying goes, every cloud had a silver lining. This allowed for intense lobbying by the tourism industry and for once tourism became national news.
The magic of the African bush is one of SA’s greatest assets. Picture: FACEBOOK
Not only that, the Ministry of Tourism had a new minister, who had to handle the objections of the industry with his counterpart at the Ministry of Home Affairs. The national debate indicated the importance of tourism as an economic sector and for once people understood what were studied at school.
The President mentioned during his State of the Nation Address that he would look at this visa conversation, and he later established an inter-ministerial committee that made recommendations to the mutual benefit of both departments.
I appreciate the intense reflection that was a by product of the national discourse of the visa regulations. The adoption of tourism-led local economic development in South Africa has highlighted the importance of this sector. The inclusion of tourism in the National Development Plan is commendable; tourism is the future for South Africa.
I am however of the opinion that the tourism sector must engage on a tourism red tape initiative (TRTI). The aim of the TRTI is to identify bottlenecks that impede the growth of tourism as a bottom- ups approach from each municipality to province, towards a national TRTI strategy.
This would be a collaborative process between the three levels of the state, the private sector and other stakeholders. It would be tourism’s own NDP.
Regional tourism perspective
There are some pressing national issues such as the long delays at Beit Bridge that has a negative impact on the regional tourism.
The fact that domestic airlines must be 75% owned by South Africans, prevents FDI into the domestic aviation space, limiting aviation competition. This would allow niche aviation players that would fly to destinations such as Queenstown, Moria, and Clarens just to name a few cities with potential.
There are several airports in Gauteng that must be developed to be international airports.
The TRTI would give speed to the re-evaluation of the Department of Transport’s Airlift Strategy. The fact that Wonderboom Airport in Tshwane is not at the level of OR Tambo International Airport still makes me to scratch my head in disbelief. Naturally when travellers fly overseas, they take pleasure to arrive and descend at the capital city of a country. These are some of the things the TRTI would have to engage on.
Today the people of Brandfort are affected by the challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality, whilst the tourism potential of having a Winnie Mandela shrine is not exploited.
The people of Port St John see thousands of visitors but the locals have little or no stake in the existing tourism industry. The people of the Vaal, with their immense struggle history remain destitute, whilst the tourism potential is not exploited.
The people of QwaQwa, Botshabelo and other former TBVC states have not packaged the past for tourism consumption, and there is immense potential for promoting cultural tourism from this history. More could have been done to develop the Bawa Falls in Butterworth and the Tsitsa Falls around Maclear. These are possible conversations that we in 2016 must learn to engage on.
Let us start the tourism national discourse.
– Unathi Sonwabile Henama lectures in tourism at the Tshwane University of Technology and writes in his personal capacity.

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