New visa regulations for children travelling to South Africa have resulted in large number of tourists being delayed or barred entry to the country according to new figures. According to official statistics more than 13,000 tourists have been barred entry because of controversial regulations for minors entering the country. Meanwhile a further 800 missed connecting flights due to long delays at immigration desks at Tambo International Airport in Johnannesburg.
New regulations introduced last year requires that single parents travelling with minor children are required to carry their full, unabridged birth certificate along with an affidavit from the other parent giving permission for the child or children to travel to South Africa. Furthermore, if one of the parents has died the death certificate must be presented on arrival to the country. The regulations were introduced to attempt to stop child trafficking.
International airlines have been preventing families without these documents from boarding flights to the country while long queues have been building up at airport as immigration officials attempt to deal with the extra workload incurred through these regulations.
Officials have commented that an e-visa should be introduced allowing passengers to register their documents in advance pointing out that this would not only be faster but safer than having to travel with all the original documents.
Because of a combination of these new visa regulations and processing biometric details of passengers travelling through entry and exit ports passengers are experiencing delays of between 90 minutes and 4 hours at immigration. Not only does this cause disruption to tourists in terms of delays but in extreme cases is leading to passengers missing connecting flights. There are calls from tourism authorities and operators to streamline the processes before the delays start to really impact the tourism industry which is so vital to the south African economy.