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Mer­ca­tus (7) (Car­de­nal Pla y De­niel; mer­ca­, the of­fi­cial uni­ver­sity shop,

re­quire par­ents en­ter­ing South Africa to carry an unabridged birth cer­tifi­cate for each of their chil­dren, and, when just one par­ent is present, an af­fi­davit to prove con­sent of their non-trav­el­ling part­ner.

Such was the con­fu­sion re­gard­ing the rules that scores of fam­i­lies have been re­fused board­ing at the gate, leav­ing them thou­sands of pounds out of pocket and their hol­i­day plans in ru­ins.

Sisa Nt­shona, the head of South Africa’s tourist board, told Tele­graph Travel the “quite strin­gent” rules con­trib­uted to a lack of growth in the num­ber of vis­i­tors from the UK since 2015, which prompted the gov­ern­ment to look again at the reg­u­la­tions.

“We are go­ing to nor­malise them to in­ter­na­tional stan­dards,” said Nt­shona. “South

Africa is al­ways want­ing to lead with its hu­man rights ini­tia­tives, but what if it has an un­in­tended con­se­quence on tourism lev­els? It’s very dif­fi­cult to mea­sure what you lost, but there was lost op­por­tu­nity.”

Nt­shona cited one “em­bar­rass­ing” in­stance when an en­tire school tour of 80 chil­dren was pre­vented from trav­el­ling at the air­port be­cause of in­suf­fi­cient doc­u­men­ta­tion.

The changes are ex­pected to be made by the end of the year.

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