Wall-to-wall publicity will be needed to reverse the damage done to South Africa’s inbound tourism industry following the expected formal repeal this week of unabridged birth certificate requirements for foreign minors.

“A huge campaign is needed, because the enforcement at the border is absolutely critical, so that everybody realises that we are going to make it extremely easy for tourists to visit South Africa going forward,” says Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, the Western Cape’s official trade, investment and tourism promotion agency.  “We look forward to it translating into a situation where there is 100% clarity that we will not be asking for additional requirements in terms of tourists visiting South Africa, because it is clear that amongst the challenges that we have been facing, has been that the lack of certainty around the visa regime and the requirement for unabridged birth certificates has put a real lid on the growth of tourism, not only to Cape Town and the Western Cape, but also the rest of South Africa.”

Harris was commenting on President Cyril Ramaphosa ’s instruction to the Department of Home Affairs to rescind the UBC requirement following a ministerial NEDLAC meeting on October 7 attended by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa. TBCSA Chairman, Blacky Komani, said the Department of Home Affairs would make a formal announcement on October 16 on the timetable going forward. “The first thing that needs to happen is that Iata will be notified to put the amendment into its system. Then all immigration officers will need to be briefed. The TBCSA will also run an awareness campaign with Satsa (Southern Africa Tourism Services Association) to create awareness. It is also important that SA Tourism, which is currently running a roadshow in the US, advises the markets.”

Airlines Association of Southern Africa (AASA) CEO, Chris Zweigenthal, said the association would also circulate instructions as “clearly as possible” to all its members, once the repeal became official. He said South African minors leaving the country would still need to carry birth certificates unless they could present the names and identity numbers of their parents in their child passports.