Industry Holds Breath As Damage Sets In

10th July 2014
Tollman says he received feedback from travel agents in China who are forecasting a 70% drop in travel to South Africa. “The Chinese travel trade has officially stopped all marketing for packages to South Africa, and have said they are not taking any more bookings for South Africa after October. They have started advising clients to rather travel to Dubai, Tanzania and Kenya.” 
 
Scott Lupien, President of the 52Safari International Hunting Club in Beijing, says he is diverting clients to other destinations so that the regulations do not have a negative impact on his business. According to him, clients are being put off by the regulations. 
 
“We have a group of clients in Namibia now and they also went to SA,” Lupien told Tourism Update. He added that the trip was almost cancelled because of the new regulations. “The clients live in Chengdu and didn't want to appear in person at embassy.”
 
Lupien described the requirement that tourists apply in person as “extremely bad news” and pointed out that while many other countries were making it easier for Chinese tourists to obtain visas, SA appears to be making it more difficult.  “In the six years that I've been doing this safari business, I've seen the USA, Canada and Europe all make big concessions to simplify the visa process and also grant a larger and larger percentage of visas to applicants.”
 
SATSA is working together with the TBCSA to compile a report that will outline the effect of the new Immigration Act. “We have commissioned Grant Thornton to pull a coherent document together that looks at potential losses both in terms of birth certificates and biometric visas. This is work in progress but is aimed at looking at best practice in both regards,” says SATSA CEO, David Frost.
 
He adds that he is encouraged by the statement from Minister Gigaba that the door is not closed and that Home Affairs will be receptive to inputs; however, he warns that the uncertainty surrounding the new regulations is already having an effect and many SATSA members have reported cancellations.
 
Addressing the trade earlier this week, Minister of Tourism, Derek Hanekom, said that, given that the discussion on the new regulations was ongoing, the ministry did not want to pre-empt the outcome of these discussions. “It is important to say that the industry and many players in the industry are engaging directly with the Minister. Let that discussion between the stakeholders and the Minister proceed.”
 
Sourced from Tourism Update
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