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More promises over dumping birth certificate travel rules but Gigaba yet to follow through

JOHANNESBURG — Nonsensical birth certificate travel rules, implemented by Minister Malusi Gigaba back in 2015, continue to haunt South Africa’s tourism sector. The reality is that Gigaba made it harder for tourists to bring their families (as well as their euros and dollars) into South Africa over fears of child trafficking. While child trafficking is a risk, there are better ways of dealing with the problem than hobbling your own tourism sector. Gigaba, who is back at home affairs after a brief stint at National Treasury, has now made more promises to fix the mess he created. Government officials made the same promises in 2016 – let’s hope they actually deliver this time around. This below piece is published courtesy of TourismUpdate.co.za – Gareth van Zyl

By Tourism Update

Foreign minors will, in the future, not be subjected to the same passport regulations as South African passport holders under the age of 18. This was confirmed by the Department of Tourism at the 2018 Satsa conference, currently taking place in Port Elizabeth. However, there is no target date for such a change.

Reacting to Tourism Update’s opinion piece on the lack of progress in removing the birth certificate barrier to inbound tourism, a person close to the Department of Tourism said the Departments of Tourism and Home Affairs were in robust discussions regarding changing the regulations for foreign minors to fall in line with best practice as developed by countries like Canada, and the UK. This would ultimately result in minors travelling with both parents not needing to carry a birth certificate.

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba Photographer: Dean Hutton/Bloomberg

On July 12, the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, was quoted in Business Day as saying that foreign minors would need to carry birth certificates if the names of both parents did not appear in their passport – a format that is not used by any of SA’s major source markets.

Things have moved along since then, Tourism Update was told.

In a pre-recorded interview with Satsa CEO, David Frost, SA Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom told Satsa members attending the conference that he had committed himself publicly to push the resolution even harder concerning the tourism barrier to entry that unabridged birth certificates had caused. He said that he, together with Gigaba, had formulated proposed recommendations to bring entry-to-SA regulations in line with other countries to alleviate this barrier, while exploring alternative ways to deal with child trafficking concerns for which the unabridged birth certificate regulation was initially implemented. The Tourism Minister said SA President Cyril Ramaphosa was expecting to see progress on these issues: “It’s now implementation time,” said Hanekom.

Hanekom was scheduled to attend the Satsa conference to address members and respond to questions, but had to withdraw due to a meeting taking place at the BRICS Summit between Ramaphosa and China’s President Xi Jinping, and delegations from each country – which Hanekom was required to attend.

Until the regulations are officially changed, airlines will have to continue to deny boarding to even accompanied children without birth certificates. Systems used by check-in staff worldwide will only be changed once it is clear that airlines will not be penalised, and can allow the boarding of foreign minors without birth certificates.

NOTE FROM THE PUBLISHER: It is two years ago this week we carried essentially the same story. This appeared in Tourism Update on 21 July 2016.

It does not even matter what the president says, nothing changes until the Department of Home Affairs gazettes a new regulation. We have yet to hear from DHA that they will obey the cabinet wishes.

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