There has been more, depressing confirmation about the ability of blinkered bureaucrats to sabotage the economy and destroy jobs through the mindless application of red tape. Business Day has reported that Cullinan Holdings CEO Michael Tollman is cutting back on additions to the company’s fleet of luxury coaches. Why? Because he fears there will be fewer foreign tourists as a result of SA’s new onerous visa restrictions. Obstacles in the way of people wanting to visit this country with their much-needed pounds, dollars, euros and yuan include the need to get visas at a SA Consular office. If you don’t live in a big city, this is a major obstacle. In addition the need for biometric data for a visa means the need to be physically present for the application. Of course, we need strong immigration controls, as does any country. But there appears to have been no consideration given to the impact of these new regulations on tourists. Problems for the foreign spouses of South Africans, or for people legitimately in the country for their business have also been raised in response to the bureaucrats. What do our experts make of this?
Sacci CEO Neren Rau:
SACCI has tabled its concerns in respect of the changes to the visa requirements on many occasions. These concerns were borne out from a trade perspective in respect of Kenya’s retaliatory steps and from a business perspective in respect of the reported commitment to halt investment by tour group, Cullinan Holdings.
Gillian Saunders of Grant Thornton:
The need for unabridged birth certificates is a timing and a processing problem, from the perspective of its impact on tourism. But the biometric visa requirement is a very big problem – if people have to get them in their country of origin. We would really like to change that and get biometric visas on arrival – supplementing a standard visa. The big learning curve going forward is how we make sure government collaborates across the different departments that impact tourism, before legislation begins to bite. We have to look at the implications of tourism from legislation coming from every department. Tourism has the ability to be one of our major sectors in terms of delivering jobs and growth.
Raymond Parsons, North West University Business School:
This is another classic example of how policy decisions should NOT be taken without adequate prior consultation and without reference to the National Development Plan. Policy coherence and credibility now depend on tangible proof that policy alignment will progressively happen as promised by government. Although apparently the Immigration Board was consulted, it is clear from preliminary reaction that the tourism industry – and even the Minister of Tourism – have been unaware of what had been brewing regarding tighter visa regulations. Minister Radebe in the Presidency is now charged with the task of assessing whether existing and new legislation is NDP compliant, so in that spirit – and together with Minister Gigaba and the tourism sector – the visa regulations should be urgently revisited.
Nikki Forster, PwC Leader of Hospitality and Gaming:
Any regulations that reduce the ease of travelling to any country will impact tourism.
In terms of job creation, you can’t do much better than to promote tourism. For the government to be acting against this is a sign of folly, arrogance and stupidity. We need to et rid of this damaging legislation, and at the same time to boot out the idiots behind it.
Tweets of the Day:
Steve Stifler (@SteveStfler): My doctor told me to watch my drinking, so now I drink in front of a mirror
The QI Elves (@qikipedia): Start every day off with a smile and get it over with. – W. C. FIELDS