New visa regime will boost SA

New visa regime will boost SA.
New visa regime will boost SA.
Image: 123RF/Кирилл Винокуров

We welcome the relaxed visa regulations that were announced by home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba yesterday, albeit three years too late.

The announcement is in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa's economic stimulus package.

Stricter visa guidelines, which included that foreign nationals and locals travelling with minors in and out of SA must carry documents such as an unabridged birth certificate to prove parental consent for the trip, were introduced in 2015 by the same minister.

Gigaba said at the time the reforms were meant to clampdown on child trafficking - a great initiative - which was, unfortunately, not well thought out as the tourism industry lost billions of rand because of this as tourists decided not to come to SA.

In 2016, Tourism Business Council of South Africa (TBCSA) stated that 13246 people were refused entry into the country . TBCSA said on average a tourist spends around R13000 a day while visiting SA, meaning that potential revenue of around R7.51bn was lost due to red tape.

Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba announced amendments to the visa regulations on September 25 2018. These amendments are in line with recommendations by the inter-ministerial committee on immigration regulations.

However, that is all in the past folks, as Gigaba said foreigners would no longer be required to provide the documents but "we will rather strongly recommend that travellers carry this documentation".

"Our immigration officials will only insist on documentation in high-risk situations rather than for all travellers, in line with practice by several other countries.

"Rather than denying entry where documentation is absent, travellers will be given an opportunity to prove parental consent. SA minors will still be required to prove parental consent when leaving our borders," Gigaba is quoted as saying.

The new changes would be implemented as of next month, just in time for the festive season, which should bring the much needed revenue for tourism.

Home affairs also announced that it was reviewing the visa requirements for other African countries, outside the SADC region, and a three-year, multiple-entry visa for frequent, trusted travellers to SA.

This means the country will be accessible to travellers from the rest of the continent which would be great for our economy.

Well done government for fixing your mistakes.

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