Cape Town – New regulations for passengers travelling by air with children will cost the tourism sector over R6.8bn in losses and could result in job cuts, warned the Board of Airline Representatives South Africa (Barsa) on Monday.
The ministry of home affairs amended immigration regulations concerning travelling with children amid concern about the growing issue of child trafficking.
From July parents will have to provide an unabridged birth certificate of all travelling children.
In addition, South Africans and foreigners will have to provide details of the child’s father and mother. This will apply even when both parents are travelling with their children.
When children are travelling with guardians, these adults are required to produce affidavits from parents proving permission for the children to travel.
Unabridged birth certificate applications can take up to eight weeks to complete.
Airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents.
“The financial impact on service providers and reputational damage for South Africa is inevitable”, said Barsa.
It also said the timing of the new policy comes at a bad time when South Africa prepares to welcome tourists over the peak European school holiday travel season.
A child denied boarding by an airline ultimately means a family can’t travel and, by industry estimates, until traveller awareness is 100%, tourist arrivals to South Africa could be negatively impacted by up to 20%.
“Based on 2013 numbers, 536 000 foreign visitors could be denied travel.”
“The lost income to South Africa from these high value visitors could be over R6.8bn annually inevitably leading to job losses in the South African tourism sector.”
The new immigration regulations have been widely criticised.
The Forum of Immigration Practitioners said it had an array of shortcomings which would make it impossible to apply for a work visa or any other visa.
Global Migration SA said it was unconstitutional and could result in litigation against government.
The strict visa rules also threaten to jeopardise South Africa’s entertainment industry from future investment as foreign companies consider where to do location shoots and film movies, TV series and commercials.
The travel and work schedules of many A-list actors are such that they cannot return to their home countries to submit applications, said Global Migration SA managing director.