Tourism Business Council raises travel concerns | Fin24
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Tourism Business Council raises travel concerns

Nov 07 2016 16:15

Cape Town - The well-meaning concession that led to the introduction of biometric data capturing on arrival at South African airports, is now being compromised by the lack of resources within the Home Affairs Department, according to the Tourism Business Council of SA (TBCSA).

In its view, this has led to congestion and delays at the immigration zone - mainly at OR Tambo International Airport.

"With the traditional festive season fast approaching and the anticipated increase in tourist numbers, concern is growing since there hasn't been any confirmation on contingency measures being put in place to address this urgent challenge facing the industry. In addition, the amendments made on the unabridged birth certificate (UBC) requirement does not go far enough to address the concerns of the trade and that of tourists wanting to visit South Africa," the TBCSA said in a statement.

"The resulting effect is that two years after the introduction of the new immigration regulations, business in the travel and tourism industry is unable to fully capitalise on the weak rand and the buoyant global travel market."

TBCSA is an umbrella organisation representing the voice of organised travel and tourism businesses in South Africa. It serves to contribute to a competitive, responsible and inclusive travel and tourism economy that in-turn makes a greater contribution to the broader economy of SA.

Its members are businesses whose total contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2015 reached R375.5bn (9.4% of SA GDP); generated a total of R115bn in visitor exports; and have a total of R63.7bn in investments (7.8% of total investment) – according to the 2016 SA economic impact report by the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

Since 2014, the TBCSA says it has been working to address the concerns of its members and the broader industry on the introduction of specifically two regulations included in the Amended Immigration Regulations. These include capturing of biometric data for all international visitors into the country and the continued requirement for unabridged birth certificates (UBCs) for travelling minors.

"Through engagement and consultation with various role-players in the private and public sector - including the intervention by the Cabinet Inter-Ministerial Committee on Immigration - some progress has been made," according to the TBCSA.

"To address these matters in a collaborative and partnership manner, the TBCSA continues to engage relevant stakeholders both in the public and private sector."

It recently addressed the newly established Immigration Advisory Board and the Tourism Parliamentary Portfolio Committee about recommendations on addressing the concerns of the industry.

These matters will also be raised at the upcoming Captains of Industry meeting with the Ministers of Tourism and Finance.

"It needs to be noted that in putting forward its concerns and recommendations, the TBCSA and its members took care not to disregard the security concerns of the country," emphasised the TBCSA.

"Through these actions, we wish to validate our commitment to continue our stakeholder engagement - to use all dialogue opportunities to finding lasting solutions to these challenges. The leadership of the TBCSA believes that solutions to these challenges are possible through continued dialogue and a spirit of partnership and collaboration."  

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