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Air China to commence direct flights to SA

The DA is aware of the imminent announcement that Air China will start direct flights to South Africa, from Beijing on 29 October 2015, running three flights a week. 


The DA welcomes this news at a time when tourism to South Africa is plummeting under draconian new visa regulations.



Now that Air China will commence direct flights, it is more important than ever that government heeds the DA's calls for these job killing regulations to be suspended, reviewed and replaced with systems that make it easier for tourists to visit our country, not harder.



Earlier this year Air China had announced that they will not be implementing direct flights to South Africa - their change of mind is welcomed. Air China will operate their flight via a code sharing deal with South African Airways.



While China is one of South Africa’s largest tourism markets, it has experienced a steady decline. Due to the new regulations, the first quarter of this year (compared to the same period last year) saw a 38% drop in the arrival of Chinese tourists to South Africa. 



The DA welcomes further news that two new additional visa centres will be opened by the end of July in China; one in Guangzhou and one in Chengdu.



Including Shanghai and Beijing, this will bring the total number of Visa centres in China to four.



New Visa centres may make things a little easier for Chinese tourists, but the DA maintains that the introduction of electronic visas and biometrics on arrival instead of the new Visa regulations, should be the way forward for South Africa. 



These technologies have proven to be very effective, safe and have improved turnaround time in the countries in which they have been adopted, such as Turkey.  



The DA has consistently highlighted the dire impact these new Visa regulations will have on our tourism industry. According to the Board of Airline Representatives of South Africa, the new regulations could cost the tourism sector over R6.8 billion and result in severe job cuts.



The ANC forced these regulations through in the face of massive opposition and despite warnings of the negative impact these regulations would have on our tourism industry.



The tourism industry contributes 9% of our GDP and employs 1.5 million South Africans. Its growth and success is vital to growing our economy and creating jobs for the 36% of South Africans who cannot find work. 



The DA welcomes Air China's move and will continue to press for more tourist-friendly visa procedures.   

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