Tourism Minister Derek Hanekokm says South Africa will introduce electronic visas before the end of the financial year and will bring visa requirements for minors in line with international best practice.
Delivering his 2018/19 Tourism Budget Vote address in Parliament Hankom said discussions with his colleague, Minister Malusi Gigaba (the one who started the maddness! – Ed.) and the Department of Home Affairs have been “most encouraging”. According to Hanekom his colleagues informed him of their intention to introduce e-visas during this financial year (2018-2019).
“Meanwhile, they are working hard to have systems in place to recognise the Schengen visa and valid visas for the USA, Canada, the UK and Australia as sufficient for tourists to enter South Africa. We have also agreed to bring the requirements for travelling minors in line with the practice in the USA, UK and other countries. This will go a long way to boost family travel and end the traumatic experience of travellers being turned away by airlines,” he said.
As reported earlier here, South Africa’s requirement that minors travel with an unabridged birth certificate (UBC) to South Africa and letters of approval from non-travelling parents were ‘“monsters that chased tourists away” and cost the country dearly.
TourismUpdate.co.za quotes Hanekom as saying just over half of the department’s R2.2bn (€148.2m) budget for 2018/19 would go to SA Tourism to market South Africa. He called for the reinstatement of a direct flight from Mumbai to South Africa to kick-start a stagnating Indian market, normally one of South Africa’s top 10 source markets.
Overall, he said, tourism was outpacing other sectors, contributing 9% to South Africa’s GDP. Last year, 10.3m tourists visited the country and spent more than R75bn (€5b). Overseas arrivals grew 7.6% year-on-year. The sector employed 1.6m people across the value chain.
He said investments worth R71bn (€4.8b) were made in tourism developments last year, accounting for more than 8% of total investment in South Africa. He said the department had established a dedicated unit to promote investment. “We are assisting developers to package their projects and linking proposed developments with investors. Investment in tourism is expected to reach a staggering R112bn (€7.5b) by 2028”.