SATSA has been joined in its campaign against the new visa regulations by The Jewellery Council of South Africa, which has issued this statement:
The jewellery industry has been severely affected by the stringent new visa regulations. The Chairman of the Jewellery Council of South Africa, Mr Chris van Rensburg, has raised his concerns that should this not change, many jewellery and diamond companies who deal specifically with tourists from China, will close their doors and employees will lose their jobs.
Since the implementation of the new visa regulations, the effect which one diamond company has experienced is a drop of between 80 to 100 Chinese tourist groups per month to between 20 to 25 tourist groups coming through their doors.
Another diamond company, which has been in business for 35 years and mostly sells diamonds to Chinese tourists, has reported they may be forced to close down and this will result in a chain reaction, starting with at least 15 of their suppliers whose employees will also be affected.
Chinese tourists form a huge part of the jewellery industry’s clientele, accounting for over 70% of polished diamond consumption, 40% of luxury watches and a large percentage of finished jewellery products.
These companies have been informed by the operating tour companies from China that the reason for the drop in tourists is due to the complicated process applying for a visa and the inefficiency of the SA VFS offices in Beijing and Shanghai. Most tour operators have removed South Africa as a destination to their customers for vacationing by the Chinese public and rerouting them to Botswana and Namibia. The time and resources it takes to apply for South African visiting tourist visas is far too complicated.
The Jewellery Council is working closely with Mr David Frost, CEO of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association (SATSA) in an attempt to possibly overturning these regulations.