The South African Department of Home Affairs say it will increase the number of immigration officials employed at OR Tambo International Airport for the 2017/2018 financial year.
Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba (also knows as the ‘tourism terminator’ for his anti-tourism visa antics), told media at a briefing on Wednesday (18 January) that his department had allocated R25 million for the 2017/2018 financial year and should be able to appoint an additional 58 immigration officials, as well as fully capacitate its management team. This comes after the Department of Home Affairs deployed 92 additional staff at OR Tambo International Airport from December 9 to January 14 this year.
A second increase in staff capacity is planned for the 2018/2019 financial year, with an additional budget allocation of R17 million made available by National Treasury.
Arrivals recorded during this period by the Department of Home Affairs were 2,054,118 foreign arrivals compared with the 1,997,532 for the same period between December 9, 2015 and January 14, 2016. This is a 2.83% increase.
Gigaba has been severely 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 while 90% of New Zealanders don’t live in Wellington.
He is also blamed for the introduction of of the requirement that all children under the age of 18 travel with an unabridged birth certificates (UBC). Tourism operators says this has made family travel to the South Africa “virtually impossible”, yet, Gigaba attributed increased numbers of tourist toe “starting to project the country as a tourism destination and highlight(ing) the various tourist attractions that are available in South Africa… it tends to have a positive impact on the number of people who are travelling to our country.”
He added that the perception of South Africa as a ‘safe’ destination had also contributed to the increase in tourism numbers during the festive season and travel to South Africa throughout the year.
A total of 208 833 arrivals were from Europe, 47 933 from North America, 43 690 from Asia, 35 166 from South America, 19 190 from Australia, and 6 321 from the Middle East. Arrivals from Africa accounted for 1 660 020 of the total arrivals.