New visa rules introduced in South Africa to combat child trafficking are seriously affecting family travel, according to the latest figures from ForwardKeys, which monitors future travel patterns by analysing 14 million reservation transactions each day.
The data shows international family arrivals had been growing by three per cent compared with the same period last year. But since the introduction of the visa restrictions on June 1 2015, new requests to travel with children have fallen ten per cent.
The new rules require that any child arriving in South Africa must carry an unabridged birth certificate, or have submitted this earlier when applying for a visa. The change has been introduced by the South African government as a security measure against child smuggling.
The ForwardKeys analysis shows a negative effect on family travel to South Africa from a wide range of countries. In fact seven of the top ten source markets for visitors have seen a decline in numbers since the new rules came into effect. The largest declines are from France and Sweden where arrivals have fallen by almost a third.
“Our data provides strong evidence of the negative impact the new rules are having on this important market segment in South Africa. The restrictions are hitting travel from countries around the world,” Olivier Jager, co-founder and chief executive officer, ForwardKeys told Routesonline ahead of this year’s World Routes forum in Durban, South Africa.
ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14 million booking transactions a day. It is used by travel marketers, retailers, hotels, destination marketing organisations (DMOs), financial institutions, car rental companies, tour operators, online travel agents (OTAs), and other traveller-focussed businesses worldwide to monitor and anticipate traveller arrivals and stay trends from a particular origin market at a specific time.
There is concern among tourism industry leaders about the current situation and Jager intends to raise the issue with delegates and particularly tourism officials during World Routes.
“The family segment was growing at 3% before the new requirements were introduced, unlike other segments which were falling. The effects of this new visa development are still emerging and we will continue to monitor the situation in South Africa to see how it develops further,” he added.