In the Portfolio Committee on Tourism today, it became clear that there have been 600 000 fewer tourists since the introduction of visa regulations.
The regulations have clearly made it harder for people to come to South Africa.
According to industry experts, 1 job is created for every 12 tourist arrivals. In a country with a 36% unemployment rate, this potential to create jobs must not be jeopardized.
There is a clear pattern of declining tourists to our country since the announcement of the introduction of visa regulations in 2013:
Year – Tourist Arrivals
2013 – 9.6 million
2014 – 9.5 million
2015 – 8.9 million
2016 – 9 million
These figures prove a decline of 600 000 visitors which equates to a 6.6% decline, revealing the negative effects of the ill-conceived visa regulations.
Despite the overall decline in tourist figures nationally, the number of tourists that flocked to the Western Cape during the month of December 2016 showing a massive 29.8% increase compared to the number of tourists during the same time in 2015.
Every day people are turned away from travelling to South Africa because of continued confusion surrounding the requirement for unabridged birth certificates for minors travelling to the country.
Electronic visas will drastically cut the turnaround time for the issuing of travel documentation, and are in fact more secure than existing permits.
The failure to implement electronic visas will ultimately cost the South African tourism sector by making it more difficult to attract visitors to South Africa.
In failing to do so, government, during its announcement of the concessions, failed to seize an opportunity to act in the best interest of South African tourism.
Despite the threat to the sector, the President has seemingly refused to take any action to prevent harm to jobs in tourism.
On numerous occasions, the DA has called on the government to act in the best interest of jobs in the sector.
The time has come for him to provide answers to Parliament.
The DA, along with the tourism industry, has long held that these regulations are disastrous for the industry and will not rest until they are abandoned.