Immigration regulations the hot topic at TBCSA
Human talent gaps, public and private partnerships, Ebola and marketing South Africa were the key points of discussion at a lunch session hosted by the Tourism Business Council of South Africa this week to host the UNWTO Secretary General Dr. Taleb Rifai, WTTC President and CEO David Scowsill and Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
A key point of discussion was that of South Africa’s visa regulations. While the WTTC and UNWTO believe it is right to focus on the issue of human trafficking and there are many different ways of approaching it, what’s happening in SA is “using a blunt instrument to address a very complex problem which is having very real and tangible negative effects for the travel and tourism industry”.
Visiting representatives said they were heartened to hear remarks from SONA by President Zuma on this issue. “Biometrics have to be done on arrival, it cannot possibly be done prior. The US and Australia systems can be used as reference for SA. This is the top issue that needs to be resolved for industry to get back into growth mode. This is a very competitive world SA is operating in and you have to make it as easy as possible for people to come and visit.”
Minister Hanekom says the President’s commentary around the review of visa regulations is unsurprising “given than tourism has been identified as one of the six economic growth sectors in the country”.
Here are the other highlights of their discussions:
Human Talent Gaps
Both public and private sector in South Africa need to “front up” to training and addressing the human talent gaps which exist for the future growth of the industry.
The partnership encapsulated by the UWTO/WTTC means they are able to align their advocacy efforts. WTTC applauds the work of the TBCSA as it is extremely important for Government to have one point of reference that can talk on behalf of industry, something which does not exist in many other countries around the world:
WTTC and UNWTO spent time in the beginning to address issues such as wholesale panic over the outbreak; Government over-reaction and the issue of people not having a clear understanding of the exact location of the Ebola affected countries.
Marketing South Africa
Key issues to consider – How do you market? Where do you apply those marketing funds? Should the private sector be contributing? When people come to SA they typically want to visit neighbouring countries so how you market and facilitate travel to neighbouring countries within the region.
South Africa has not scratched the surface of this market – “it is such as important and powerful market” having one consulate in Shanghai, one consulate in Beijing and the current complex visa regime.