Home affairs won’t back down on child visas – minister

Mumbai – South Africa expects new visa rules for children to dent tourism in the first year they apply, but they will not damage the vital sector long-term, Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.

The rules, aimed at preventing child trafficking, require minors to have an unabridged birth certificate with full details of both parents as well as a passport, visa and other documents. They came into force on June 1.

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Critics argue they are hurting tourism, which contributes nearly a tenth of South Africa’s economic output.

“We don’t think we should be so ambitious as not to expect a drop,” Gigaba told reporters during a visit to India. He did not provide numbers, but said the initial dip was not significant.

“Every country balances its voracious desire for tourists with the desire to secure the country. That is what we are trying to do – to balance the economic and the security imperative,” he added.

The minister said Air China was considering suspending flights to South Africa because of the visa requirements.

Pretoria was working with the Chinese to resolve the issue, but Gigaba said his department “is not going to back down”.

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