New travel regulations have travellers in a knot

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THANDI XABA

Travelling in and out the country is going to be much stricter for those travelling with children.
As from Monday 1 June the department of home affairs has put into place new requirements that stipulate South Africans going overseas.

From now on, South African parents planning trips outside the country can apply at any Home Affairs office at a fee of R75 and need to take their identity documents and the child’s abridged birth certificate along, while South Africans abroad can apply for visas at their closest embassy.

Even though there has been widespread complaints regarding the regulation, government has justified the intricate new system in the hope of combating human trafficking.

According to CEO of the Association of Southern Africa Travel Agents, Otto de Vries, this notion is "a sledgehammer approach to killing a mosquito" since the numbers given of cases of human trafficking in the country are not accurate.
The National Prosecuting Authority revealed that only 248 cases of human trafficking were reported between 2010 and March 2011, and not the 30 000 children as reports have stated.

Acting CEO at the South African Chamber of Commerce (SACCI), Poppy Droskie, explains that an unabridged certificate means the certificate needs to have the full history of the individual, like the mother, father and grandparents.

"This unabridged certificate is quite a detailed description of what is required. It’s causing big problem. Furthermore, the airline companies are now responsible if a person comes into the country and doesn’t have the entire necessary document, which will mean extra costs for the airline company," she explains.

Droskie further says that a translator will be required if a person from another country who is not conversant in English wants to enter the country, which will also add to costs.

De Vries says the implications on this regulation will cause much confusion. "We are concerned as an industry and why we are convinced this is going to have a profound impact on the industry at large, is the fact that this is a very unusual practice. South Africa is the only country that has implemented this policy," he says.

Not only will the tourism sector be effected says De Vries, but the country’s economy as well, which according to experts is already dwindling in numbers.

thandi@centralmediagroup.co.za