South African minister of home affairs, Malusi Gigaba, (also known as South Africa’s ‘tourism terminator’ has severely been criticised for introducing a visa application process for New Zealanders intending to travel to South Africa, which entails traveling to Wellington to apply in person.
Dave Marsh, the Managing Director of Johannesburg-based Travel & Trade Publishing, which also publishes TravelUpdate.co.za writes the ridiculous new visa rules for New Zealanders come in retaliation against New Zealand for introducing a 10 minute online eVisa process.
“…the Minister of Home Affairs’ department has issued a decree that will result in over 90% of Kiwis having to travel from their home to another city if they want to apply for a visa to visit South Africa which they will have to do in person,” writes Marsh.
New Zealand has been one of the few countries since the end of apartheid to remove visa requirements for South Africans. Last year they introduced an eVisa for South Africans with a 10 minute online application process.
South Africa’s Home Affairs have responded by reciprocating but have said that all New Zealanders must go to the SA mission in Wellington to apply in person for a visa.
Less than 10% of New Zealanders live in Wellington, which is an eight hour drive from the most populous region, Auckland.
Marsh says “Home Affairs wants even New Zealanders living in the same street as the South African High Commission in Canberra, Australia, to go back to Wellington to apply in person. New Zealanders next door in Harare or anywhere in the world, for that matter, can only get a visa if they go to Wellington.
“The tit for tat response is completely out of proportion and simply absurd unless there is a plan by Home Affairs to snuff out tourism from New Zealand. Known in parliament as the Tourism Terminator, Minister Gigaba must have felt threatened by the 20% increase in New Zealand visitors reflected in the latest government statistics for the period January to October last year.
‘In the month before visas are mandatory on 16 January, the Wellington mission closed for 10 days over Christmas,” writes Marsh.