SA facing flight route cuts due to new visa rules

South Africa’s new immigration rules are set to come into effect on 1 September and concerns about its possible impact on foreign visitor arrivals and far-reaching effects on air transport links to South Africa continue to been raised. 

iAfrica reports the joint appeal by 20 regional and international airlines to the department of home affairs indicates losses in tourism could reach R10-billion a year - 10 times more initially forecast.  

Added to the risk of decreasing tourism numbers and the financial implications thereof, airlines might also be forced to reduce schedules or even withdraw services due to the financial impact.

Home affairs is reportedly considering a request to meet with the airline representatives to discuss a proposed 12-month reprieve

Also see: Who exactly is immigrating to SA

British Airways
, one of the airlines which has added its name to the appeal, said while the government has explained the reasons for the new regulations, it remains concerned that the consequences may be a decline, particularly leisure travel to South Africa as holidaymakers switch to destinations where the immigration requirements are less onerous.

In the report, Regional Manager for the Middle East and Africa at Virgin Atlantic Airways, Simon Newton-Smith questioned why  home affairs was ignoring the potential economic risk for South Africa, added to the issue of "inadequate infrastructure to facilitate in-person visa applications across the world".

Newton-Smith believes “home affairs is not ready for its own rules”, warning that South Africa will end up paying the price.  

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