E-Visas good news for tourism sector

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Frieda Paton

During his recent budget vote Derek Hanekom, Minister of Tourism, announced that the roll-out of the E-visa system by the Department of Home Affairs will start within this financial year.  Simpler and faster processes to obtain travel documents to South Africa will be a great boost for tourism.

The sticky and lengthy process of applying for a South African travel visa has long been recognised as a deterrent to potential visitors.  Figures from 2017 have shown that the number of visitors from visa-exempt countries has grown, while the opposite is true for visitors from countries where visas are required.

Contributing about 9% of South Africa’s GDP overall, tourism has been growing faster than other economic sectors. It supports about 1.5 million jobs or nearly one in ten jobs in the country. This figure is expected to increase to at least 2.1 million in the next decade.

Hanekom further announced that the Department of Home Affairs was also working towards allowing entry into South Africa for holders of the European Schengen visa, as well as valid visas for the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia. Also under review is the abridged birth certificate requirement for travelling minors.  This has caused considerable distress to travellers when families were turned back at airports. Entry requirements for minors will be brought in line with practices in other countries such as the USA and the UK.

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