Data confirms visa hit on tourism - CEO

Carin Smith

Cape Town - There is now concrete data that confirms the adverse effects of SA's new regulations on the country's tourism industry, Enver Duminy, CEO of Cape Town Tourism, told Fin24 on Monday. He responded to the latest visitor data released by Statistics SA. A comparison between June 2014 and June 2015 shows that, with the exception of France, the number of tourists decreased for all the other nine leading overseas tourism source countries of SA. China had the largest decrease of 28.4% - from 5 823 tourists in June 2014 to 4 167 in June 2015.

"Since the introduction of the new travel requirements for travellers on June 1 2015 by the Department of Home Affairs the tourism industry has been predicting a decline in visitors. Now that we have concrete data we can confirm the adverse effects of these regulations," said Duminy.
Traveller date intelligence firm ForwardKeys, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 14 million reservation transactions each day, said earlier this month that the new visa rules are seriously affecting family travel.

Its data shows international family arrivals had been growing by 1.8% compared with the same period last year, but since the introduction of the visa restrictions on June 1, family arrivals have fallen 10%.

The new rules require that any child arriving in South Africa must carry an unabridged birth certificate, or have submitted this earlier when applying for a visa. The change has been introduced by the Department of Home Affairs as a security measure against child trafficking.

ForwardKeys, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 14 million reservation transactions each day, recently said before the new visa regulations, "family" was the only growing tourism segment.

"The key tactic for all tourism industry partners in combatting these negative numbers is to circulate more information to international travellers. Once these requirements are fully understood globally the sooner South Africa can expect positive arrival numbers again," said Duminy.

The City of Cape Town’s assessment on the economic value of tourism in Cape Town, conducted by independently-appointed consultants Grant Thornton, estimated that 37 551 people were permanently and 15 130 temporarily employed in the tourism industry in Cape Town in 2013. Estimations relating to new birth certificate requirements suggest that R9.7bn in gross domestic product (GDP) could be lost to the South African economy and 21 100 jobs countrywide and, as an outcome of the biometric visa requirements, a further R36.7bn in GDP and 80 100 jobs could potentially be lost.

"Cape Town Tourism is confident that despite this downward trend, the global reputation of Cape Town as a premier holiday destination, the current devaluation of the rand and many forthcoming events will entice visitors to the Mother City," said Duminy.