The Board of Airline Representatives SA (BARSA) has concerns.
A proposed requirement of all children to produce an unabridged birth certificate may cost South Africa as much as $64 million in lost tourism.
According to BARSA, from 1 July South Africa will require all children under the age of 18 to produce an unabridged birth certificate in addition to a passport when entering, departing or transiting the country. This new rule applies regardless of the nationality of the child and whether the child is travelling with parents, with other adults or unaccompanied.
South Africa will be the only country in the world mandating this for travellers by air, and BARSA expects it to cause mass confusion and disruption to tourists and air travellers globally.
The purpose of the unabridged birth certificate requirement is to create an additional verification to deter child trafficking.
“The global airline industry is working collectively with the International Air Transport Association (IATA) on global measures to counter child trafficking by air and, in our opinion, a consistent approach internationally is the only way to address this issue,” said June Crawford, CEO of BARSA. “If all airlines and airports worldwide adopt the same measures simultaneously, the travelling public and travel service providers will be quickly educated to the new requirements. As it stands, South Africa will just appear isolationist, ‘anti-children’, tourism demand will go elsewhere, and it will take years for South Africa to overcome the reputational damage.”
The airline industry in South Africa met with the Department of Home Affairs on 3 June to request a 12-month delay to the policy implementation, to allow for full and proper consultation and collaboration. To date there has been no confirmation that the proposal has been accepted, so all stakeholders have to prepare for the requirements to be implemented as planned on 1 July.