The decision by the South African Department of Home Affairs to waive the requirement for Unabridged Birth Certificate for foreign minors coming on to South Africa, has left the southern Africa region anticipating a huge boost in family travel.
Many visitors to neighbouring countries in the region, particularly Eswatini, pass through South Africa and so the changes in 2015 that brought in the UBC requirement proved extremely damaging to the family travel market. Eswatini itself remained with no such requirements during this time, but with the vast majority of its international arrivals passing through Johannesburg, the South Africa regulations placed huge restrictions on families heading for the Kingdom.
The SA Department of Home Affairs has already updated its own regulations to calrify that only a passport is now needed for children arriving from visa-exempt countries, and has communicated the removal of UBC requirements with all airlines through IATA (International Air Transport Association). So, there are no longer any obstacles to travel and it’s now ‘all systems go’ to promote South Africa and its neighbours to families again. Sthembiso Dlamini, SA Tourism Acting CEO, commented: “Family travel is a key driver for arrivals and we compete with many other destinations for our share. The waiver announcement will allow us to proactively and aggressively market South Africa as a family-friendly destination again.”
With Eswatini also currently celebrating its position as one of Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel Top Countries for 2020, this comes at the ideal time to help this relatively undiscovered Kingdom showcase its diverse family-friendly attractions to the world. As a wonderfully compact country (it takes less than 3 hours to cross the entire country) with a huge variety of activities available for children, and never any long journeys, Eswatini is an ideal family destination in Africa. As well as more traditional game drives, its well-known Mlilwane Wildlife Sanctuary offers horse riding and mountain biking to all ages, whilst its stunning scenic wildernesses can be explored by anyone willing to walk the trails (or be carried along them!). The Swazi people, famed for their friendliness, love to welcome children to the country and into their homesteads and so the opportunities for memorable cultural interactions and to make friends are endless. With opportunities to ‘have a go’ at creating some of the arts & crafts that Eswatini exports far and wide, including candle moulding and textile weaving, there is never an inactive moment on a family trip to this charming, welcoming Kingdom.