South Africa 9.6.2015 09:00 am

Home Affairs rubbishes data

FILE PICTURE: Esther Mabitsela hold her new Smart ID card. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem)

FILE PICTURE: Esther Mabitsela hold her new Smart ID card. (Photo by Gallo Images / Foto24 / Theana Breugem)

The department of Home Affairs has rubbished claims by South African Tourism Services Association (Satsa) of a drop in airline ticket purchases, saying they were “just figures” that were “being thrown around to cause confusion”.

Satsa blames Home Affairs for figures showing plane tickets to South Africa sold this month had declined by more than 30%.

This after the introduction of Home Affairs’ tough new entry rules aimed at preventing child trafficking on June 1.

The outbound travel, inbound tourism, and airline industry associations – the Association of Southern African Travel Agents, the Board of Airline Representative of South Africa and Satsa – all agree the new regulations could hurt the tourism industry

Satsa CEO David Frost said tourism was becoming South Africa’s fastest-growing sector.

“Arrivals have been boosted in part by a weaker rand that had made South Africa a relatively cheap destination. Thus the new rules would hurt the industry severely. Airlines would bear the cost of repatriating travellers without the correct documents,

“What we are seeing here is akin to taking a sledgehammer to kill a mosquito,” he said.

Otto de Vries, head of the Association of Southern African Travel Agents, also opposed the government’s new regulations.

“If you are going to implement policy that is this unique in the world, you would have taken the time to find out exactly how serious the situation is – this regulation would impact the industry very badly,” said De Vries.

Frost added the impact of the new regulations was already showing.

He also called the department’s dismissal of its figures an “insult to the industry”.

“These people have a logic of a five-year-old,” said Frost.

“Travel agents work tirelessly to persuade people to come to the country and we are just throwing around figures to disregard the new laws. That is ridiculous.”

However, Home Affairs maintained the country’s first priority was not “the tourism industry but the safety of the children”.

– batlilep@citizen.co.za

 

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