Minister Gigaba reiterates in the latest media briefing that all is on track in terms of Cabinet concessions in the immigration sector, tourism influx and a positive development in tourism numbers and handling at the ports of entry.
12 JANUARY 2016: JOHANNESBURG
I trust you all had a restful festive season and indeed a great start to the New Year.
For Home Affairs and other departments with whom we collaborate over this period, this has meant stepping up a gear with rising numbers of travellers in and out of the Republic, who had to be served diligently, efficiently, professionally and with speed.
Thus we have convened this media briefing to report on traveller movement over this peak period. We have focused on 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016 for the analysis. I trust that in sharing this information we will do much to clarify some recent reports related to South Africa’samended visa rules and traveller volumes.
I believe as a department, and a hospitable country, we did our best in facilitating smooth movement for citizens, tourists and other foreign nationals through our ports of entry, empowered by extra resources and capacity to rise to the challenge, including more staff, equipment, IT support and extended hours for processing travellers.
From 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016, a total number of 5,390,856 travellers went through our borders, much higher than the total earlier reported for 1 December 2015 to 3 January 2016, that is, 4,798,183.
Of the 5,390,856, 1,487,148 were citizens, with 3,903,708 being foreign nationals.
There were 2,003,509 arrivals of foreigners and 706, 365 arrivals of citizens, bringing total arrivals to 2,709,874. Regarding departures, the number for foreigners was 1,900,199 and for citizens it was 780,783. Total departures were 2,680,982.
I am glad to announce therefore that when we look at 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016, it is quite clear that the 2016 peak period had notable increases in traveller movement compared to 2014 and 2015.
Whereas total movement for 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016 was 5,390,856, it was 5,141,021 for 1 December 2013 to 7 January 2014 and 5,116,783 for 1 December 2014 to 7 January 2015. Compared with 2014/15, there was therefore an increase of 5,3%.
For 2013/14 (1 Dec 2013- 7 Jan 2014) the number was 1,850,339 for foreigners, and 716,745 for citizens, (2,567,084 in total).
For 2014/15 it was 1,872,298 for foreigners and 704,066 for citizens (2,576,364 in total).
The period 1 Dec 2015 to 7 January 2016 was higher in this respect, at a total of 2,709,874 (2,003,509 for foreigners and 706, 365 for citizens).
With regard to travelling minors, 284,191 foreign minors travelled to South Africa. (This represented 99.4% of all foreign minors who attempted to visit SA. Only 0.6% of foreign minors were turned back due to lack of compliance with requirements for travelling minors)
The increase in volumes in terms of arrivals is 7.6% for foreigners and 0.3% for citizens.
This upward trend was also seen in terms of arrivals per region.
The period 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016 showed increases of 4.9% travellers from our continent, 6.1% from Europe, 7.8% from North America, 15% from Asia, 2.5% from Australasia, 21% from the Middle East, and a decrease of 1% for arrivals from South America.
The top nationalities arriving in SA over this period were from Lesotho, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Swaziland, Botswana, United Kingdom, Germany, USA and Namibia.
The top ten ports in the period 1 December 2015 to 7 January 2016 were, Oliver Tambo International Airport, Beit Bridge, Lebombo, Maseru Bridge, Ficksburg, Oshoek, Cape Town International Airport, Kopfontein, Ramatlabama and Groblers Bridge.
We will continue doing all in our power to improve on efficiency, effectiveness, quality of service, and professionalism.
Once more I thank all travellers, and our citizens, for their conduct in this period, in spite of challenges in some areas, including long queues. This is receiving our undivided attention.
Many of our officials are indeed doing their very best, although there is much to be done further to enhance performance and entrench Batho Pele principles.
Our country can balance the national interests of national security and child safety with tourism. We can be a safe and convenient country to travel, and we believe the immigration concessions do exactly that.
With regard to the progress of Cabinet concessions on immigration regulations, indeed we are on course. We should be ready soon to report on the strong advisory in respect of children from visa-exempt countries.
During the festive season, the eMCS Biometric pilot programme was continued at selected passenger processing counters at the 4 pilot airports with 2 counters at Lanseria, 5 counters at King Shaka International Airport, 8 Counters at Cape Town International Airport and 5 counters in the Transit area at OR Tambo International Airport.
Travellers experienced a smooth process with only limited glitches as would be expected of any new endeavour. In terms of process, the biometrics (photo and fingerprints) of a traveller will be captured in addition to the normal scanning of the passport to record the movement on our enhanced Movement Control System.
For the first registration, the Department will capture all 10 fingers but subsequent movements will require the capturing of only one finger for verification purposes.
A turnaround time of less than 3 minutes is currently achieved for first registration of travellers and approximately 1 minute for travellers that require verification on subsequent movements.
The biometric capturing with specific focus on the capturing of biometrics in the transit area at OR Tambo International Airport, and the fact that travellers no longer require transit visas at these 4 airports as announced by the department on 15 December 2015, has assisted with the smooth facilitation of travellers whilst protecting our national security.
Making concessions work is a priority for us, as we believe it to be in the best interest of all to make the country safe while ensuring tourists are still coming to South Africa.
If we do not keep SA safe, and fail to provide effective protections for children, we are going to push travellers away. Similarly, if we don’t continue to improve on the traveller process modalities it will push travellers away.
We should however desist from talking down our country, in particular, our tourism sector. The attraction of South Africa goes beyond reckless convenience. We have an opportunity to strike a more collaborative tone as government and the tourism sector, one that appreciates the perspective of the other.
We can work together, keep our country safe and attract travellers beyond mere convenience of travel.
In 2016, the Department of Home Affairs thrives for higher efficiency with regard to managing migration and we believe this will be of great socio-economic benefit to our country.
I thank you.