Increased paperwork for tourists to South Africa may impact demand
The new rule increases documentation for taking children along and may prove to be a dampener for travellers from India.
The rule, aimed at protecting children from human trafficking came into effect yesterday. It says that if both parents are travelling with children below 18 years of age, they have to submit birth certificates for each child in addition to their passports and visas at the port of entry.
If only one parent is travelling with a minor child, he or she has to get a recently dated affidavit from the other parent allowing entry into and departure from South Africa with the child, according to an advisory from the nation’s department of home affairs.
The affidavit can be typed and signed on a blank piece of paper but it has to be certified by an authority such as a bank or a lawyer, said a person familiar with the procedure. The parent can also get a court order granting him or her parental responsibilities and rights.
While this rule applies to visitors from all countries, experts said it will prove cumbersome in India, given the difficulties associated with getting official documents.
"This has significantly increased paperwork requirements for those travelling to and from the country with children," said Vishal Suri, CEO tour-operating at Kuoni India. "With the new rules into play, airlines will be forced to refuse travel to families not in possession of these documents."
Indian tourists have been flocking to South Africa, especially in the past two years, as the country’s stable currency provided a welcome alternative to dollar-denominated nations. According to the South Africa tourism board, Indian tourist arrivals to the country doubled between 2009 and 2013 to 133,000.
"Countries have to realise that travellers have many options now. While every step taken to curb child trafficking is welcome, such rules will tell on leisure demand," said Ashwani Kakkar, executive vice chairman of Mumbai’s Mercury Travels.
South Africa has battled with human trafficking for the last several years, with the government taking several initiatives. Global media reports have pegged the number of children trafficked every year at between 30,000 and 45,000.
"Reducing the high levels of violence against children is among South Africa’s most overwhelming tasks. Despite the country’s progressive child protection laws, policies and programmes preventing and addressing violence against children, it remains a major challenge," the government said in a recent statement announcing its Child Protection Week campaign for this year.