South African MPs seek clarity on new visa regulations

South African MPs seek clarity on new visa regulations

27 September 2018 Thursday 18:42
South African MPs seek clarity on new visa regulations

CAPE TOWN

South African Members of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday sought clarity on the implementation of the new visa regulations for minors travelling in or out of the country. 

This came after Gigaba on Tuesday announced a series of measures to ease visa requirements for certain countries in a bid to attract more tourists. 

One of the measures is the relaxation of documentation for children travelling with adults.  

Gigaba said some of the strict regulations announced in 2014 will be revised from the end of October this year, therefore children travelling with adults will not have to provide unabridged birth certificates and some other documentation which is hard to obtain. But the minister said immigration officials will only insist on "documentation by exception in high-risk situations" rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries. His remarks about "documentation by exception in high risk situations" have caused confusion. 

The minister makes mention of documentation, but did not clearly indicate what this is or the implications of carrying "such documentation," Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Tourism said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

"The committee notes that clarity is required on the implementation of the new amendments for minors travelling in or out of South Africa, as Section 18(3)(c) of the Children's Act requires consent of both parents," Committee Chairperson Lusizo Makhubele-Mashele said. She said airlines, inbound tour operators and people travelling with minors need this clarity as people outside of South Africa are, at this time of the year, finalizing their travel arrangements for the holiday season. 

To require documentation by exception, for instance high-risk situations, may still deter people from travelling to South Africa, if clarity is not provided on what these conditions entail, Makhubele-Mashele said. 

For visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements for certain countries, as indicated by Gigaba, Makhubele-Mashele urged the Department of Home Affairs to speedily conclude negotiations to finalize visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport holders.  

"We need to use technology to improve efficiencies at airports and other points of entry into our country and to improve traveller experience overall," said the chairperson. 

Once a tourist is frustrated at the point of entry then that has the potential to spoil the entire tourist experience, Makhubele-Mashele said.  She urged the Department of Home Affairs to make its implementation plan public so that all people are aware of the changes. 

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