WITH effect from October 01, 2014, South African Airways (SAA) will comply with new regulations relating to children who travel to and from South Africa. These new regulations were promulgated in terms of the South African Immigration Amendment Act of 2010 and define children as persons under the age of 18. “These regulations are designed to ensure the safety of children and should thus be welcomed,” says SAA’s spokesperson, Mr. Tlali Tlali. “As from 1 October, we will not be able to check in all travellers who cannot produce the necessary documentation in terms of this Act.”
In terms of the new regulations, when parents are travelling with a child they need to produce an unabridged birth certificate that shows the names of both parents. In cases where the certificate is in a language other than English, it must be accompanied by a sworn translation issued by a competent authority in the country concerned. When a child travels with only one parent, additional documents should include an affidavit in which the absent parent gives consent for the child to travel, a court order granting full parental responsibilities or legal guardianship of the child, or the death certificate of the absent parent. The affidavit should be no more than three months old, from date of travel.
In the case of a child travelling with a person other than a parent, the unabridged birth certificate must be supplemented by affidavits from the parents or legal guardians confirming that the child may travel with that person, copies of the identity documents or passports of the parents or legal guardian, and the contact details of the parents or legal guardian. Similarly, a child travelling as an unaccompanied minor would have to produce not only the unabridged birth certificate, but also proof of consent from parents, or legal guardian and contact details, plus documentation relating to the person receiving the child in the Republic. The latter documentation should include a letter stating the person’s contact details and residential address and contact details where the child will be residing, plus a copy of his or her identity document, passport or residence permit.
All documents must either be original or certified as true copies of the original, by a competent authority. However, South Africa Tourism Minister, Derek Hanekom at another forum has warned that the SA tourism sector could be undermined by South Africa’s new visa and immigration regulations. Mr Hanekom told Parliament’s tourism portfolio committee that the visa and immigration regulations issued six weeks ago by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba could have a negative effect on the sector.
In terms of the new rules, people wishing to visit South Africa would only be able to apply for visas at the country’s foreign missions, which in the case of a large country like China would mean only in Shanghai and Beijing. “It could potentially have a negative impact on tourism. We have to make it as easy as possible for person to come to our country,” said Mr Hanekom. “We are dealing with a very, very competitive international environment and people have choices. At this stage where we are getting a good share, with close to 10-million arrivals annually.
“We can increase that share but if we do the wrong thing that share can drop. We don’t want to slip backwards; we want to maintain it and we want to grow it.” Mr Hanekom stressed that it was “critically important” to remove unnecessary bottlenecks and said discussions were taking place with the Department of Home Affairs. Many significant role players, both local and foreign, had raised their concerns with Mr Hanekom and Mr Gigaba, pointing out that the new requirements would place quite onerous burdens on visa applications. This included the need for an unabridged birth certificate for children and the accessibility of South African missions.
“Even in these difficult times where we are struggling to achieve the kind of growth levels that we would like to achieve, the good news for the tourism sector is that it has been on a steady growth path for a very long time,” Mr Hanekom said. Since 1990 the sector had expanded by about 200 percent while gross domestic product (GDP) had only grown by 74 percent. “The tourism sector therefore makes an important contribution to our growth targets.” Tourism’s direct contribution to GDP has risen from 2.8 percent ($8.33bn) in 2011 to 3 percent ($9.33bn) in 2012, though it could be as high as 9-10 percent if the indirect contribution is taken into account.