I am not used to contest or criticize South Africa in this blog… but some new events this summer lead me today to ask for a change!
South Africa is seriously increasing the number of foreign visitors since the past 2 years. This is due to the political stability, the wonderful image given by the South African people during the 2010 world cup and the loss of Madiba last year. This is also due by the weakness of the Rand which allow visitor spending less money when they buy their trip but also during their trip… this last reason is certainly one of the most serious one. Another one is the explosion of emerging markets such as India or China or South America who are still small but increasing strongly.
In the context, it would be wonderful to just seat and be satisfied, thinking about doing more or maybe doing better. But this summer (winter other there), some decided explode part of this market by introducing a new and very difficult procedure for travellers with kids. The main argument is to avoid the kids traffic.
What is it exactly all about? Each person travelling with a kid will have to provide a birth certificate (in English) + all pieces justifying both parents agree about this travel. Easy for English speaking countries… huge mess for others. But more than this simple problem is the way it has been done:
– announcement 31st july for application October 1st
– several version and not all the case discussed then trouble
– no help given to the traveller and tour operator or airlines to inform and help the travellers
– no contact with the SA embassy and no replies from them… worst than for North Korea
It gives the impression of improvisation, non professional and non responsibility from the South African authorities. They have to protect the laws but also to explain it when it affects foreigners (as it will affect South Africa quickly as well)… who bring business and money to the country. If such a procedure is maintained, it will certainly affect the tourism industry for families which is a huge part of overall travellers. And it also gives a wrong image about the country, which will also affect the arrivals.
Then please, you who are in South Africa and concerned about your country, help us and help your country to keep and develop its tourism industry. If kid’s traffic is a problem with some countries, we are ready to work on it. But I have a doubt; is this real and serious problem between France, Germany or any European countries and South Africa?
I would also like all of you to lobby for improving the social laws in South Africa. This country is becoming a huge destination and travellers need to feel the country is moving on and improving the social laws. For European (and others) countries, all press reports always refer to apartheid whatever they see as an injustice. Low wages, no social protections, mainly for the poorest part of the population (mainly black), still lack of education, still to many injustice is the ground of future instability and violence. We saw it often these last months and it is not possible that the country of Nelson Mandela keep a too liberal state and laws. It is not possible to see entire economic sectors not giving better salaries and suddenly, after strikes giving 50% increase. The social state of South Africa must be rethought and lead South African people to share more… this is the only issue to share one thing: the future of South Africa.
Keep well and even if these words come from far, please hear it and find your way to save the future of such a great country, which is also mine.