Travel News / 2018-09-21 11:33 – Gabi Zietsman
In President Cyril Ramaphosa’s statement on the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Plan for South Africa, he highlighted the visa changes approved by the cabinet on Wednesday.
One of the key economic reforms mentioned in the president’s speech was the country’s visa regime, focusing on the amendments that will be made to regulations on travel of minors to South Africa, the list of countries requiring visas to enter South Africa, an e-visas pilot that will be implemented, and visa requirements for highly skilled foreigners that will also be revised.
“These measures have the potential to boost tourism and make business travel a lot more conducive. Tourism continues to be a great job creator and through these measures we are confident that many more tourists will visit South Africa,” says Ramaphosa.
The full details of the visa reforms and waivers have yet to be made available but will be officially gazetted in October – ahead of the busy December holiday period.
Expected visa changes
Cabinet received a joint report from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism – Malusi Gigaba and Derek Hanekom – which reiterate the visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to visit South Africa.
The biggest issue is the hoops foreign tourists have to jump through when travelling with minors and obtaining unabridged birth certificates, and changes to this regulation will also be included in the reforms, the state has confirmed.
There are also negotiations on visa waivers and relaxation of visa requirements from certain countries which are being finalised, and further details will be announced later this wee
This is expected to include China and India, as part of high-level agreements between the countries and South Africa that was announced in July during the BRICS summit.
According to the latest StatsSA figures for May 2018, compared to May 2017, Indian tourist arrivals to South Africa was down 12%, while China was up by 5%.
While the details of the Chinese visa agreement is not confirmed, Hanekom did mention that one of the options being considered was a “multiple entry Visa” that would be valid for five years and offer tourists up to 90 days in the country.
South Africa is also rolling out e-visas soon, set to be a gradual roll-out starting with “Phase 1, Release 1, for applications for temporary residence visas, adjudication of temporary residence visas, applications for waivers, notifications to the applicant via email and biometrics captured at the Mission.”
The ePermit will be piloted at one Mission or local office in the last quarter of the next financial year by 31 March 2019. This is to ensure system stability. Once stable, more offices locally and abroad can then be gradually brought online, says the DHA
This is sure to make travel to South Africa much simpler and less complicated once it is up and running.