South Africa as a destination may lose millions in revenue as a result of the new visa requirements for New Zealand, despite the market accounting for a small percentage of arrivals to South Africa.

Since implementation, some tour operators have experienced cancellations, while others say they’ve seen no new bookings for South Africa from the market.

Michael Waller, CEO of Dragonfly Africa, said the operator had already had two big cancellations from the New Zealand market and that a great deal of business was under threat. Waller estimates the vulnerable business to be worth tens of millions of rand. Tourism Update understands at least one other operator has also experienced a number of cancellations of FITs and groups since the new legislation was instituted.

SA Tourism Chief Marketing Officer, Margie Whitehouse, told trade in a webinar hosted by Tourism Update, that SA Tourism was working with the Department of Tourism and Home Affairs to launch an accredited tourism company programme in New Zealand, similar to the one in place in China.

However, this change and improvement may come too late for some operators. Bruce Taylor, from Sunway Safaris, said it had not had a single booking from the New Zealand market for South Africa in what is usually its popular booking period (January to April). “All the money that we’ve invested in brochures, and time and effort, and salaries in developing the New Zealand market for a visit to South Africa is currently completely wasted,” said Taylor.

Waller also highlighted the knock-on effects of this requirement, saying that the amount of spend of an incentive group was a lot higher than the average leisure traveller. He added that clients were already looking toward other destinations, such as Zimbabwe, as alternatives.