During a gathering in Lagos made up of travel and tourism industry practitioners, South African Tourism (SAT) head, Sisa Ntshona, shared the department’s plans to relax some of the conditions through which Nigerian families travel to South Africa, emphasising the importance of SAT investing in the Nigerian tourism market as it is important to the South African tourism sector.
This is an effort to make travel easier for genuine Nigerian families travelling to the country together with their children. The unabridged birth certificate, introduced by the Department of Home Affairs in 2014, was aimed at curbing child tracking, but had unfavourable consequences with it restricting travel to families.
“The policy was aimed at curbing child trafficking. We have what is called unintended consequences. It has made it difficult for genuine people to come. This is where the balance is becoming clear. If you close the door and let zero children come, you are killing an economy, and if you don’t do that, you become a haven for traffickers. You have to create a balance. We have relaxed some of those rules but we keep a balance,” explained Ntshona. “The same is the case with the visa issue. When something goes wrong, the first thing they look at is who let these people come in, how come our immigration officers didn’t do their jobs? It is the balance. As we get more confident with each other and know each other better, I am of the view, we will become more relaxed. These are not directly in our control, but these spaces we influence.”
In conjunction with the department’s promotion of the country to Nigerians and fostering better relations with Nigerian tour operators and role players, the current devaluation of currency by some countries in Africa including Nigeria have resulted in the department seeing a continued and steady rise in the number of Nigerians visiting his SA.
“I think our depreciating currencies have also helped us, because we became more affordable than other destinations. I think all these put together has made us an attractive destination,” he shared.
“Today we are holding a conversation in providing a platform between the South African trade associations to link up with Nigerian trade associations,” said Ntshona. We also spoke about a tourism programme we have every year in May. That is an opportunity for everyone to come. You will not only meet South African businesses, you will also meet those from Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania to have an opportunity to cross-pollinate and start to have an integrated approach when you look at tourism business.”