“It is shameful that the SA Government did this regarding unabridged birth certificates. Now airlines sit with all the risk,” Asata CEO Otto de Vries said at an Aviareps Mini Airline Fair in Cape Town on Wednesday.
He said the guidelines of international best practice, on the other hand, usually only require parental consent and control checks.
“We waited for months for standard operating procedures and got the first draft only three weeks before the new visa rules were implemented,” said De Vries.
He said by now there have already been seven different versions of the standard procedures. This creates massive confusion in the industry, in his view.
South Africa is the only country in the world which requires children to carry unabridged birth certificates with them when they travel, according to De Vries.
He was the guest speaker at an airline mini fair hosted by Aviareps in Cape Town on Wednesday.
“We waited for months for standard operating procedures and got the first draft only three weeks before the new visa rules were implemented,”
According to De Vries, there are other countries which require an unabridged birth certificate for the purposes of visa or passport applications, but as far as he knows they do not require it to be carried along on the journey itself.
Research done by Asata shows that most child trafficking in South Africa is most likely taking place within the country. As for children trafficked from abroad, the research indicates that most would likely be from countries neighbouring SA and also not by air.
“Sure, one child trafficked is one child too many, but don’t apply a blunt instrument like a sledgehammer. Rather use international best practice,” said De Vries.
In his view the new rules will deter about 1.5 million tourists from coming to South Africa – that is if one works on a ratio of one child per adult travelling.
He pointed out that the impact is already seen in the 20% decline in family tourism in forward bookings being made.
“Collectively we in the industry are trying to understand the impact of the new rules by gathering data in the meantime,” said De Vries.
“We will also continue our efforts to engage with Government.”