“More tourists” visit South Africa during Christmas period

"More tourists" have visited South Africa during the just-concluded festive season, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said Tuesday.

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Tourists
tourists

From Dec. 1, 2015 to Jan.7 2016, some 2,003,500 foreign nationals arrived in South Africa, Gigaba told a press briefing in Johannesburg.

Tourists
tourists

There was an increase compared with 2014/15, according to Gigaba.

The Department of Home Affairs has been under fire over new visa regulations allegedly stemming tourists from coming to South Africa.

“I trust that in sharing this information we will do much to clarify some recent reports related to South Africa’s amended visa rules and traveller volumes,” Gigaba said.

Under the revised regulations implemented in mid-2014, tourists who want to visit South Africa have to apply in person for visas so that “biometric data can be reliably collected”.

On June 1 last year, another new rule took effect, requiring children crossing the borders to be in possession with birth certificates.

The Tourism Business Council of South Africa said that by the end of 2015, the number of lost foreign tourists due to the visa regulations is likely to hit 100, 000, with a loss of 9,300 jobs and the total net loss to the South African GDP of around 4.1 billion rand (about 248 million U.S. dollars).

In October, the government promised to relax the visa regulations, but the tourism sector complains that so far concessions to the regulations have not been implemented.

“With regard to the progress of Cabinet concessions on immigration regulations, indeed we are on course. We should be ready soon to report on the strong advisory in respect of children from visa-exempt countries,” Gigaba said.

“Our country can balance the national interests of national security and child safety with tourism. We can be a safe and convenient country to travel, and we believe the immigration concessions do exactly that,” he added. Enditem

Source: Xinhua

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