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 1.8% compared with the same period last year. But since the introduction of the visa restrictions on June 1st 2015, family arrivals have fallen 10%.
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, most notably France, down 29%, Sweden, down 29%, the USA down 18% and Germany, down 16%.
Olivier Jager, ForwardKeys Co-founder and CEO, said: “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.”
“The family segment was growing at 1.8% before the new requirements were introduced, unlike other segments which were falling.”
There is concern among tourism industry leaders about the current situation – an issue likely to be discussed at the World Routes conference taking place in Durban from 19-22 September 2015.
Olivier, who will be attending Routes, said: “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.”
ForwardKeys predicts future travel patterns by crunching and analysing 14m 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. The analysis enables them to anticipate the impact of events, better manage their staffing levels, fine tune supply requirements, adjust and measure the effectiveness of their marketing efforts and predict future market trends. ForwardKeys’ data is retrieved daily from all the major global reservation systems worldwide.