South Africa introduced new visa requirements last month in line with equivalent requirements in the UK and US in a bid to prevent child trafficking and domestic child-custody disputes between divorced or separated parents.
Some of the new requirements dictate that an unaccompanied minor has to produce: A valid passport; an UBC or Equivalent Document; Parental Consent Affidavit; letter from the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic containing such person’s residential and work address and full contact details in the Republic, a copy of the identity document or valid passport and visa or permanent residence permit of the person who is to receive the minor in the Republic.
Following these tight conditions by the government, Cape Town-based travel company Drive South Africa has developed a web app simplifying the new child visa regulations into easy-to-use three tap tool meaning users can view and print a checklist of documents specific to their child-travel scenario, in three clicks (or taps in the case of mobile). The 3-step process is powered by a 37-node decision tree running behind the scenes.
The child visa checklist app developed to coincide with the new regulations is available on both web and mobile makes it an easy checklist tool for people travelling into or out of South Africa with children.
South Africa’s tourism sector affected
According to Andre Van Kets, Co-founder and marketing director of Drive South Africa, the app will benefit the tourism industry with little knowledge about the new regulations and requirements with which were rolled out with little consultation.
“The confusion in the diaspora that comes with the new requirements and the harm it might cause South African tourism, prompted the development of this simple to use web app, which cuts through the legal jargon and helps South Africans and non-South Africans alike know exactly what they need when travelling to and from the country with their children.” Said Mr. Van Ket
Concerns over the impact of the new regulations have come from a number of quarters, with Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) chief executive officer (CEO) David Frost saying the documents otherwise available online were “shockingly complicated”.
SATSA believes the number of tourist arrivals into South Africa could be down by as much as 28 per cent due to the new regulations and confusion surrounding them, while the Tourism Business Council of South Africa reports a further 100,000 tourists may be lost this year, representing the loss of R4.1bn in income and 9,300 jobs.
Van Kets said the app was initially conceived as a way of helping the company’s internal team of travel consultants better understand the new regulations, but turned into an open source web app, accessible from any browser.
It was built in consultation with family law attorney Megan Harrington-Johnson of Johannesburg-based legal firm Schindlers Attorneys, and has had over 11,000 users from 123 countries since it launched.
The app will give parents confidence when travelling in and out of South Africa with children under 18 years old, and remove all uncertainty faced by parents trying to work out exactly which documents they need when travelling with their youngsters.