South Africa’s Chinese tourist arrivals continue to drop following new visa rules
- Posted by Daniel Meesak
- On 8th October 2015
- chinese, decrease, regulations, rules, south africa, tourism, visa
Chinese tourist arrivals are continuing to drop, something mainly attributed to the new, stricter, visa regulations that were put in place with the explicit purpose of securing South Africa’s borders and combatting human trafficking. One of the new requirements for Chinese visa applicants is that they have to apply for their visa in person at one of the South African high commissions in China – a big hurdle for a large majority of the potential Chinese tourists to South Africa as there are only two such offices in China.
Speaking to the BBC, the South African political commentator Justice Malala argues that “people won’t want to fly from Guangzhou to Beijing just to submit their biometric information – they’ll just go somewhere else in Africa”. The head of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, Mmatsatsi Ramawela says that tourism service providers are “very, very worried”, and continues, “all of [our partners] are talking a major reduction in business out of our major emerging markets like China and India – between 50-70% down. It’s absolutely [a disaster]”.
The global consultancy Grant Thornton recently released a report on the impact of South Africa’s updated visa rules on the country’s tourism industry, and found that it lost 150,000 visitors the first quarter 2015 alone, with $128 million direct spending not reaching South Africa’s tourism industry in comparison to the same time last year.
The recently implemented visa regulations are hitting the non-Western outbound tourist arrivals the hardest, with significant decreases in arrivals from, e.g., China, Taiwan, and South Korea – with the decrease in Chinese outbound tourists representing the by far largest decrease in absolute numbers.
As COTRI China Outbound Tourism Research Institute has previously reported, relaxing visa rules for Chinese visitors is one of the most effective ways to attract more Chinese tourists – and the example of South Africa clearly shows that going in the other directions may have disastrous effects on tourism.
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Photo: South African Tourism, flickr