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Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
South Africa’s new immigration rules aim to enhance security and keep out so called undesirables from entering the country. The reality is that the new policies have made it far more difficult for tourists and professionals to live, work, and spend their money in South Africa; and it’s hurting the economy.

Craig Smith – Immigration Lawyer, Craig Smith & Associates:
This is producing a lot of concern abroad and this is reducing the number of skilled foreigners coming in. Those particular foreigners who wish to retire here and buy properties and invest. Business investors, corporate investors; a lot of people open up call centres in South Africa as a viable destination.
It is still very attractive because of exchange rates but regrettably immigration and the permitting requirements are making it quite difficult to, one, determine what is required for successful application and even if you do give all the requirements the difficulties and practical issues of having to go over there yourself now and actually apply.

Nicola Lochner – Immigration Lawyer, Ashman Attorneys:
Before Business Visa’s the actual investment amount went up, which is understandable given the exchange rate of the rand versus rest of the currencies; but it’s obviously hindered a lot of entrepreneurs so you don’t have five million rand to invest in a new business or a start-up business, whatever the case may be. And you simply can’t apply for a Business Visa if you don’t have the five million rand cash.
In the past you used to be able to show proof of assets. So you’re selling a house abroad, or you’re selling a boat, or you’re selling a business, or you own a business that has money coming in; but unfortunately now they only want to see cash or machinery.

Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
A key concern for immigration practioners is that the immigration advisory board, a unit that is supposed to help the government formulate policy, was not correctly established or consulted.

Craig Smith – Immigration Lawyer, Craig Smith & Associates:
I would have thought that the ministry, the department of home affairs, would make it very clear, to specific organizations, as to who the immigration advisory board is, because that body’s instrumental in policy formulation, it’s instrumental in regulation making in collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs, and so consultation is critical.
To date, as far as I know, the immigration advisory board has not even been properly constituted; or, if it has been, certainly it hasn’t been advertised appropriately. So now at this stage you have a dirth of civic input, professional input. Not just from the Department of Home Affairs side. So I think we sit with an imbalanced set of policies and, now, immigration rules.

Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
The tourism and hospitality industries have been hit the hardest with some reports claiming that inbound travellers from Asia have declined by up to seventy percent year on year, but fear of the Ebola virus has also played a role here.

Samantha Annandale – GM, Hotel Verde:
Prior to the start of our season, being September, we saw a decrease in the number of bookings and it was predominantly from our Chinese market, Angola and Nigeria. And those all, actually they contribute, and Algeria, contribute about seventy percent of the Visa’s that were issued in 2013 to this country. It was an independent report by Grant Thornton that was done and it shows how big those markets are for us.

Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
The deVere Group is one of the world’s largest financial advisory organizations in over one hundred countries. Their South African division were expecting a decrease in the number of clients relocating to the country.

Greg Stockton – Divisional Manager, deVere Group:
The majority of our clients tend to be people that have some connections in the UK so they’re either British retiring or moving here, or South Africans that have worked in the UK so we do anticipate a slowdown in the people that are moving to South Africa, naturally because the Visa process is taking somewhat longer; and again you might have people that just, like, swerve it all together because they don’t want the hassle. They want to go somewhere it’s quick, it’s easy, stuff gets sorted and they go and they’ve got no problems.

Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
The Western Cape Government strongly opposes the new Visa regulations and will continue to challenge the Department of Home Affairs to research new and innovative Visa models applicable to South Africa.

Alan Winde – Minister of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism at Western Cape Government:
All we have to do is go to some other countries like Turkey who’s doing some really amazing things. You can get a Visa online, it takes a couple of minutes and you get your Visa; how to learn from what they’re doing. They also utilize a system that says they will recognize Visa, Visa processes in the following countries around the world and if that Visa process is recognized than anybody that has a Visa for that country will also be recognized here. Those are the kind of things we need to start looking at.

Thomas Maree – Reporter, CNBC Africa:
With South Africa in a period of stagnant economic growth, exacerbated by severe energy constraints, the country should be looking to make it as easy as possible for tourists and working professionals to spend money and invest in the country, but it seems the new Visa regulations are doing the exact opposite.
The Department of Home Affairs is engaging with the private sector to address some of the policy issues that hurt business, but the damage may have already been done to South Africa’s reputation as a hassle free tourist destination and more travellers may just decide to go elsewhere.

Thomas Maree, CNBC Africa, Capetown.

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