Abridged view on scrapping birth certificates
12 November 2019
In short – a massively welcome move; with spadework says impact expert
One of the consistent expert industry voices of reason throughout the four-year controversy over the newly scrapped birth certificate rule, is Lee-Anne Bac, Director, Tourism Specialist Unit at professional services firm, BDO. Bac and her team were responsible for the original impact assessment on the then New Immigration Regulations back in April 2015. “This is a massively welcome and long overdue decision affecting inbound tourists; but there’s a lot of work to do in order to change the South African tourism narrative,” says Bac. “You can imagine a travel agent in a Munich high street for instance – when will the news reach this jurisdiction, will it change perceptions significantly enough for agents and travellers to embrace the change, and how long will they continue to be wary of booking family holidays to South Africa when there are far easier destination choices?”
On the positive side, the recent South African Rugby World Cup victory has renewed national pride. The world has witnessed this unity, watched us working and celebrating together. “This global spotlight is the type of marketing and PR that no amount of money can buy,” says Bac. “There is nothing more valuable than South Africans themselves believing in this country and being authentic ambassadors to the world. We need to shout the good news out from every rooftop, share it via every digital platform, embrace tourism with arms wide open and get back to where we should be.”
On a business level however she believes there is a lot riding on the amount of investment and the depth of resolve required by South Africa to significantly impact the value chain in a way that will positively change the narrative. “As a country we are saying we are open for business; yet the VISA requirements and birth certificate regulations of the past few years placed a very skewed welcome mat at the door to tourism and travel and we need to straighten this up and go large,” says Bac . This will take money and tenacity to reach potential foreign visitors, tourists, and the tourism industry around the world who need to receive and believe the new message.”
Speed of change
The new travel advisory was circulated by government on Friday 8 November, stating that only a valid passport was required for foreign minors travelling to South Africa. This was loaded onto the Department of Home Affairs website today. “The good news is now that it is all in black and white, instructions to implement change to international carriers and airport control will be rapid,” says Bac who co-directs BDOs tourism and hospitality advisory services, offering expert insights to clients in all sectors of the industry across the African continent.
The BDO Tourism Specialist Unit drove the initial research data for the Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA). Conservatively, the research revealed that the country lost at least R10-bn per annum, putting as many as 24 000 much needed South African jobs in jeopardy.