Malusi Gigaba will certainly not be missed by the tourism industry, a fact they made abundantly clear after his resignation on Tuesday.
The resignation of Malusi Gigaba on Tuesday evening may have pleased many politically-engaged South Africans, but we doubt anyone celebrated quite like the tourism industry did.
After the DA and EFF essentially told Gigaba to “not let the door hit him on the way out“, two CEOs of Mzansi’s biggest tourist organisations went on the warpath. Their frosty farewell to the home affairs minister was littered was unflattering criticisms, facts and figures.
Gigaba is accused of bringing in “draconian” visa regulations for travellers wanting to visit SA, in both a professional and recreational capacity. The paperwork is long and drawn out, whereas the Unabridged Birth Certificate (UBC) requirement is a complicated process that simply puts people off.
How much Malusi Gigaba is estimated to have cost the tourism industry:
The Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) remain apoplectic with Gigaba. They claim that over 13 000 travellers have been denied the chance to come to our country due to difficulties with the UBC, costing the industry an estimated R7.51 billion in lost revenue.
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Tshifhiwa Tshivehengwa is the CEO of TBCSA. He maintains that Gigaba’s departure does not immediately reverse the damage he caused, saying that plenty of hard work now waits ahead for tourism-driven companies:
“The Minister may have resigned, but the issues of immigration regulations and visa waivers still stand. So we will be working on changing the status quo, as these have always been issues between the TBCSA and the Department [of Home Affairs].”
“We intend to continue working closely with the Departments of Tourism and Home Affairs to make sure that we resolve these issues.”
Industry professionals line up to criticise Gigaba
Meanwhile, David Frost is the CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (Satsa). He also struggled to hide his relief over the resignation, and vowed to steer the tourism industry back onto a path of sustained growth:
“This is not a personal issue. This is about the competitiveness of the tourism industry. The barriers are still there and we will work together with our colleagues within the TBCSA fold to make sure that we remove these barriers so that we can grow the tourism industry and contribute meaningfully to President Cyril Ramaphosa’s promise to grow the economy.”
More of a good riddance than a goodbye, Malusi Gigaba will not be on the Christmas card lists of any tourist-based businesses. Blade Nzimande will act as Gigabyte’s temporary replacement, but it is unclear how he’ll be able to impact policy change given the limited time he’ll have in the role.
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