23 June 2015
The South African government’s new child visa laws came into play on 1 June and they “are here for the foreseeable future”, according to Mayihlome Tshwete, the Department of Home Affairs spokesperson.
The department published standard operating procedures that airlines and the tourism industry must follow; information was also published its website, to explain the new regulations to would-be travellers.
But there is some confusion around the changes. In an email sent to all members of the Southern African Tourism Services Association (Satsa), David Frost, the chief executive, said that he found the documents “complicated”.
“The regulations are complex, daunting and not easily accessible for local and international travellers”, said Russell Jarvis, the head of communication at Travelstart South Africa. “Travellers need to know exactly what documents they require for a seamless and stress-free entry into our beautiful country’s borders.”
To help would-be travellers understand these new requirements better, Drive South Africa created the Child Visa Checklist app. The app provides an easy-to-understand checklist of documents required by anyone travelling to or from South Africa with children – for their particular child-travel scenario.
The web-based app, which works on mobile and desktop, helps users see precisely what travel documents they need, in three quick clicks or taps.
According to Andre van Kets, the creator of the Child Visa Checklist App, “there are 15 different possible documents and 37 unique scenarios for children travelling in and out of South Africa”.
“We initially create the app so that our travel consultants could fully understand the new child visa requirements, and better serve our clients. The app was so well received, that we’ve decided to go ‘open source’ with it and let anyone in the tourism industry – and travellers themselves – access the information,” says Van Kets.
To use the app, a user selects an option under each step and it displays a checklist of documents unique to that particular scenario.
It was launched on 30 May, and since then has been accessed more than 8 000 times by users from South Africa and 102 other countries, including the United Kingdom, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Australia, United States, United Arab Emirates, Swaziland, Mozambique and Malawi.
The app has also been shared more than 1 300times on Facebook and other social media platforms. Travel agencies around the world are using it to advise clients travelling to South Africa with children under 18 years.
“Thanks for creating this app. It will be a fabulous tool to help get our clients organised,” said Amy Green, the client services director of the American travel agency, Hills of Africa.
The Child Visa Checklist app was built in consultation with a panel of experts including: Megan Harrington-Johnson, the senior associate attorney, practising family law at Schindlers Attorneys in Johannesburg; and Van Kets, the co-founder and director of online travel company Discover Africa Group in Cape Town. Various members of the South Africa travel and tourism industry have also been consulted during the building of the app, including Frost and Otto de Vries, the chief executive of the Association of South African Travel Agents (Asata).