Following the announcement that South African immigration polices for schools will be revised after a period of consultation and review, Stephen Ludnow, Commercial Director at Edwin Doran Travel has commented,
“It’s been refreshing to deal with policy makers at the highest level and have our input valued and implemented.”
Edwin Doran Sports Tours were instrumental in persuading the South African government to alter the Visa & Immigration processes for school children visiting South Africa as part of a school visit. As a result, an exemption has been created allowing School Groups to travel with one affidavit from the Head Teacher covering all students in the party and negating the need for all the parental paperwork.
Tolene van der Merwe, UK Country Manager, South African Tourism, commented: “We are extremely grateful to the team at Edwin Doran Sports Travel for their dedication in supporting the industry initiative with regard to the new travel rules for minors entering South Africa. These rules were brought into effect by the South African Department of Home Affairs and are designed to help address the serious issue of child trafficking on the African continent. However, we appreciate the challenges these changes have raised and are glad this special dispensation has been approved.”
The original immigration policy for children was implemented on 1st June 2015. It stated that legal consent was required from both parents in the form of an affidavit alongside legally checked identification and an unabridged birth certificate. This procedure caused numerous difficulties for school groups travelling to South Africa, particularly for families in more complex situations and in addition to the fact that different Airlines administered the complex rules differently from one another.
The team at Edwin Doran were able to convince ABTA to re-open the case after they initially declined other approaches to do so and began to have an immediate influence on the South African Department of Home Affairs (DHA) and their reconsidering the policy.
Commercial Director for Edwin Doran, Stephen Ludnow, was able to directly partner with ABTA, the South African Consulate, the Tourist Board, the Department for Tourism (DOT) and the South African Department for Home Affairs. In response, the Minister for Tourism agreed to take up the issue with the DHA on our behalf.
Edwin Doran Sports Tours subsequently supplied substantial evidence to be considered at an inter-ministerial meeting in August, which was convened to discuss the impact of visa and immigration issues. The DOT and the DHA took the immediate decision to change the regulations in order to alleviate the ordeal for school groups. A solution proposed by EDST for school groups, whereby a schools responsibilities ‘in loco parentis’ using one affidavit signed by the School Head Teacher, would be sufficient. The DHA have accepted this proposal and an exemption to the immigration rules has now been created. This is a significant improvement to the procedure, which has involved a substantial and arduous amount of paperwork for parents and schools this summer.
Following the announcement of this change, we are continuing to work with the authorities on communicating the new exemption to airlines, immigration authorities and other tourism bodies in order to ensure that school tour groups do not experience further difficulties with travel to South Africa. We will continue to support our own customers by providing examples of the documentation required and working through any questions that arise as a result of this change.
Stephen Ludnow added “From this point we believe that travel to South Africa with school children will offer no significant immigration challenges and that the long established sports tour industry will continue to thrive thanks to the warm hospitality and high quality of sport that the country continues to offer.”