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Visa request process simplified

Minister of Tourism in South Africa, Derek Hanekom is confident that the introduction of online visa applications for foreigners wishing to visit South Africa holds great potential for the tourism industry. Hanekom said the electronic visas, which were expected to simplify the application process, should help increase growth in the tourism sector, “What is exciting me is the massive potential,” he said.

South African tourism was slow in 2017, up only 2.6% on 2016 compared with a global average of 7%. Authorities have blamed the weak performance on a stronger rand and the water crisis in the Western Cape. Hanekom said e-visas would also help reverse last year’s 17% dip in tourist arrivals from the increasingly important Chinese market.

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South Africa’s Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba and Hanekom met in May 2018 and announced they would establish a team of senior officials from both departments to work on improving tourism access to the country. “We are dealing with it very vigorously,” Hanekom said. He added that the department of home affairs was looking at waiving the requirement for visas for tourists who were already in possession of visas for the US, Australia, the UK and Schengen countries, which includes 26 European states.

He said he expected changes to the regulations on documentation required by minors travelling into and out of the country to happen before the end of June 2018. “We are on the verge of making a breakthrough,” said Hanekom. In the middle of 2015, it became mandatory for minors travelling in and out of South Africa to travel with an unabridged birth certificate. This new regulation has been heavily blamed for the loss of thousands of foreign visitors. Hanekom added that the regulations “still caused a great deal of trauma”.