Who’s Making It Harder, Easier For Tourists In Africa?

While South Africa makes life harder for visitors with strict new immigration laws set to go into effect in June, other sub-Saharan countries are doing the opposite, according to a report in TheEconomist.


Starting in June, children under 18 who visit South Africa must carry an unabridged birth certificate, with parents’ names listed, when arriving and departing. If a single parent accompanies the child, a sworn affidavit from the other parent is required. The goal is to stop child trafficking, but this measure is far stricter than those imposed in other countries, TheEconomist reports.

Also effective June 1, visitors from countries that require visas to South Africa must apply in person at a South African embassy or consulate in their home country. They can no longer apply for a visa by mail.

For tourists from China and India, which are growing markets for South African tourism, this could mean having to fly to the nearest large city. Some may decide it’s not worth the trouble.

“People have choices,” Derek Hanekom, the South African tourism minister, told a parliamentary committee, according to TheEconomist. “We have to make it as easy as possible for a person to come to our country.”

Zambia and Zimbabwe, by contrast, are testing a single joint visa, making it easier to travel to Victoria Falls on their common border. If the six-month experiment succeeds, other neighboring countries could join.

A uni-visa system has been discussed since at least 1998 for the 15 countries of the Southern African Development Community but South Africa’s fear of a encouraging illegal immigrants was a stumbling block, according to TheEconomist.

Kenya is focusing on growing tourism from India — its fifth largest tourism market — to the No. 3 position, according to a FinancialExpress report.

While 2014 visitor arrivals in Kenya were down 5 percent from the previous year, the Kenya Tourism Board reported that more than 42,910 Indians visited Kenya in the first nine months of 2014.

Kenya Tourism Board director Muriithi Ndegwa was in India recently and assured travelers that Kenya is a safe destination despite terrorist attacks, and that it’s Ebola-free. “A lot of measures have been put in place to ensure security of not only the citizens but also tourists,” he said, according to Financial Express.”

The South African government has delayed the new visa rules twice from going into effect, and established a team to talk about the issues. A group of 20 airlines serving South Africa, including British Airways, Air France and Virgin Atlantic, said the new rules are a PR, tourism, political and economic disaster, according to TheEconomist.

Diplomats from Asia and the Middle East say tour companies are reporting cancellations and the rules will deter investment.