S. African MPs seek clarity on new visa regulations

CAPE TOWN, Sept. 27
(Xinhua) – South African Members of Parliament (MPs) on Thursday sought clarity
on the implementation of the new visa regulations for minors travelling in or
out of the country.

This came after Gigaba
on Tuesday announced a series of measures to ease visa requirements for certain
countries in a bid to attract more tourists. 

One of the measures is
the relaxation of documentation for children travelling with adults.  

Gigaba said some of
the strict regulations announced in 2014, will be revised from the end of
October, this year, therefore children travelling with adults will not have to
provide unabridged birth certificates and some other documentation which is
hard to obtain.

But the minister said
immigration officials will only insist on “documentation by exception in
high risk situations” rather than for all travellers, in line with
practice by several other countries.

His remarks about
“documentation by exception in high risk situations” have caused
confusion.

The minister makes
mention of documentation, but did not clearly indicate what this is or the
implications of carrying “such documentation,” Parliament’s Portfolio
Committee on Tourism said in a statement emailed to Xinhua.

“The committee
notes that clarity is required on the implementation of the new amendments for
minors travelling in or out of South Africa, as Section 18(3)(c) of the
Children’s Act requires consent of both parents,” Committee Chairperson
Lusizo Makhubele-Mashele said.

She said airlines,
inbound tour operators and people travelling with minors need this clarity as
people outside of South Africa are, at this time of the year, finalizing their
travel arrangements for the holiday season.

To require
documentation by exception, for instance high-risk situations, may still deter
people from travelling to South Africa, if clarity is not provided on what
these conditions entail, Makhubele-Mashele said. 

For visa waivers and
relaxation of visa requirements for certain countries, as indicated by Gigaba,
Makhubele-Mashele urged the Department of Home Affairs to speedily conclude
negotiations to finalize visa waiver agreements for ordinary passport
holders. 

“We need to use
technology to improve efficiencies at airports and other points of entry into
our country and to improve traveller experience overall,” said the
chairperson. 

Once a tourist is
frustrated at the point of entry then that has the potential to spoil the
entire tourist experience, Makhubele-Mashele said. 

She urged the
Department of Home Affairs to make its implementation plan public so that all
people are aware of the changes.

GNA

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