South Africa’s Travel Industry, represented by the Association of Southern African Travel Agents (ASATA) and its tourism sector, represented by the Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) is calling for an urgent repeal of the country’s onerous Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) requirements for South African citizens and a thorough consultation process with industry to develop requirements that balance the need for security with economic growth delivered through travel and tourism.
Following the resignation of Minister Malusi Gigaba, Otto De Vries, ASATA CEO, encouraged private and public sector to come together and consider the needs of both parties and devise what needs to be done to grow the tourism and travel sector.
“The deliberations have to take into account South Africans wishing to travel abroad. We need to start from the ground up, repeal the regulations and initiate discussions between public and private sector so we can try to understand the concerns of government around safety and security, while also looking at the needs of the travel and tourism sector. This is the only way we’re going to be able to build a meaningful policy from the ground up and remove the current confusion.”
According to de Vries, the controversial requirement for travelling families has stifled outbound tourism as it is making it difficult for local families to travel internationally.
Although the South African government has announced it will ‘soon’ roll out a new child passport which will include the parents’ details and replace the UBC requirement, this is not an adequate solution, says De Vries. “In our modern South African society, there are many different types of families with single-parent families no longer a rare exception. As it stands, both parents will be required to be present when applying for a child’s passport. This is not realistic.”
“The issue of Unabridged Birth Certificates and onerous visa regulations to a certain extent had become personalised, but in fact, in many ways, it simply obfuscates the real conversation that has to take place,” says SATSA CEO David Frost.
“The requirement to carry Unabridged Birth Certificates is not about one person. Rather, it is a government position and it remains intact. We as the tourism sector are calling for a renewed effort and engagement to scrap them outright, as well as introduce a more visa-friendly regime for certain markets.”
While government pursues economic growth, tourism is the one sector that can deliver it quickly. “To do that, we need private sector to get a seat at the table to help inform what needs to happen to deliver on that growth,” concludes Frost.