NATIONAL NEWS - During the budget vote on Wednesday 10 July, Minister of Home Affairs (DHA) Aaron Motsoaledi, announced the new list of visa-free countries.
Motsoaledi said that the new visa programme is no longer subjected to a reciprocal policy usually required by the Department of International Relations (DIRCO).
The new policy will be implemented by November 2019 in the interest of travel and tourism to SA.
“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that tourism is very important for job creation,” he said.
The list of countries is as follows:
• United Arab Emirates
• New Zealand
• Saudi Arabia
• Sao Tome and Principe
Minister Motsoaledi said that his office will immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work. He added that they still need to do some “homework” for countries like China, India and Nigeria.
The revision is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to boost tourism in South Africa as he mentioned in his SONA 2019 speeches in February and June. Ramaphosa said: “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.”
Out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the DHA has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. “The President has announced in the SONA in both February and June that we shall accelerate the implementation of the e-visa system. E-visa will make it easier for tourists to visit, and for companies to acquire employees with critical skills,” said Motsoaledi.
“It will be an online application with a risk-based adjudication and issuance of your visa electronically as opposed to a hard copy. On receiving the electronic message by email, you just continue straight to your airport and head on to South Africa,” he added.
He also said that the problem is not that people must not come to South Africa, but that whoever enters the country must be properly documented. “The porous borders make documentation extremely difficult,” said Motsoaledi.
The South African government will be implementing the e-Visa system, which will allow tourists and visitors to South Africa to apply for their visas online.
South Africans can visit 99 countries around the world visa-free according to the latest Henley Passport Index.