Aaron Motsoaledi, Minister of Home Affairs, announced the new visa requirements at the Budget Vote on Wednesday morning.
This follows after Stats SA’s data showed that the amount of visitors travelling from New Zealand to South Africa dropped by 11% between 2017 and 2018. The decline continued into 2019.
Visa changes to boost tourism and economic growth
Motsoaledi explained that the core mandate of the Department of Home Affairs is to issue identification; and to contribute “significantly to economic growth. He continued:
“We do this by making life easier for our sister Departments such as Tourism to boast their tourism figures. Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that Tourism is very important for job creation.”
Moreover, out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the Department has now granted visa-free status to 75 countries – 16 of those are African countries and SADC members.
The seven new countries to enter the country visa free are:
- United Arab Emirates
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- Sao Tome and Principe
Increasing the Home Affairs work force
Motsoaledi said that the Department of Home Affairs will “immediately enter into discussions with them about how a visa-free regime will work”, and added:
“We still have some homework to do for 3 countries whose combined populations make up close to 30% of the world’s population i.e. China, India and Nigeria.”
In addition, Motsoaledi announced that Home Affairs would increase its number of staff by “two and half a times” in order to process visas for China and India; and “increase two times the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria.”
The South African Tourism Industry welcomed the news. SATSA CEO David Frost said the SATSA team have “toiled tirelessly to get these absolute no-brainers removed as barriers.”
“We are particularly encouraged by the additional capacity at Home Affairs. We may even urge it to offer more capacity, because it is the single biggest stumbling block to our growth in both India and China.”
Accelerate the implementation of e-visas
According to Motsoaledi, the e-visa system will advance deployment of immigration as a tool for economic development; as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP).
He said that e-visas will make it easier for tourists to visit South Africa. In addition, it will make it easier for “companies to acquire employees with critical skills.” Motsoaledi explained:
“We have already started testing the e-visa system at Lanseria airport. […] This testing will end at the end of October and will then roll-out the whole system incrementally.”
In essence, the e-visa system will be an online application with a “risk-based adjudication and issuance of your visa electronically”, as opposed to a hard copy.
Once you’ve received the electronic message by email, you just continue straight to your airport and head on to South Africa.