The app developed by Drive South Africa is available on web or mobile, and is a simple and easy-to-use visa checklist tool for people travelling into or out of South Africa with children.
Launched to coincide with the new regulations, the child visa checklist app allows users to view and print a checklist of documents specific to their child-travel scenario, in three clicks (or taps in the case of mobile). The 3-step process is powered by a 37-node decision tree running behind the scenes.
South Africa introduced new visa requirements last month in line with equivalent requirements in the UK and US in a bid to prevent child trafficking and domestic child-custody disputes between divorced or separated parents.
“The only problem is, these regulations were launched with little consultation with the tourism industry, are rather confusing and might even make people think twice about travelling to South Africa,” said Andre Van Kets, co-founder and marketing director of Drive South Africa.
“This confusion, and the harm it might cause South African tourism, prompted the development of this simple to use web app, which cuts through the legal jargon and helps South Africans and non-South Africans alike know exactly what they need when travelling to and from the country with their children.”
Concerns over the impact of the new regulations have come from a number of quarters, with Southern African Tourism Services Association (SATSA) chief executive officer (CEO) David Frost saying the documents otherwise available online were “shockingly complicated”.
SATSA believes the number of tourist arrivals into South Africa could be down by as much as 28 per cent due to the new regulations and confusion surrounding them, while the Tourism Business Council of South Africa reports a further 100,000 tourists may be lost this year, representing the loss of R4.1bn in income and 9,300 jobs.
Van Kets said the app was initially conceived as a way of helping the company’s internal team of travel consultants better understand the new regulations, but turned into an open source web app, accessible from any browser.
It was built in consultation with family law attorney Megan Harrington-Johnson of Johannesburg-based legal firm Schindlers Attorneys, and has had over 11,000 users from 123 countries since it launched.
Van Kets said the app will give parents confidence when travelling in and out of South Africa with children under 18 years old, and remove all uncertainty faced by parents trying to work out exactly which documents they need when travelling with their youngsters.