International visitors flock to SA

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Pretoria - South Africa was definitely the place to be during June 2010, with almost 1 million foreign nationals visiting the country in that time.

According to the Home Affairs Department, 944 535 foreign travellers entered the country from 1 to 29 June.

This was an increase of 24 percent from the same period the previous year, Home Affairs Deputy Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Thursday.

International visitors came mainly from Lesotho, Zimbabwe. Mozambique, Swaziland and Botswana, followed by the USA, UK, Germany, Australia, Brazil, Mexico, the Netherlands, Zambia and Malawi.

And while thousands have entered the country hassle free, 180 people were barred from entering South Africa.

Airline liaison officers stationed at airports in Amsterdam, Dubai, Frankfurt, Hong Kong, Lagos, London, Mumbai and Nairobi had weeded out the 180 passengers.

The officers were deployed by the department to ensure that passengers without valid travel documents never made it to South Africa for the World Cup.

Those who have been turned away were found to be in possession of fraudulent permits, visas and stamps; gave contradictory reasons for wanting to visit the country; or had been placed on South Africa's Visa and Entry Stop List.

The department has a 24-hour Operational Centre and is monitoring the movements of travellers through its Movement Control System (MCS), the Advanced Passenger Processing (APP) system and deployment of the airline liaison officers.

"Through the MSC we were also able to facilitate the safe and secure movement of 24 serving and former Heads of State and Government," Gigaba said.

The same system also helped with the smooth departure of 23 national teams that are no longer participating in the tournament.

The MCS and APP would also benefit South Africans after the World Cup, the deputy minister said.

"The systems we have put in place will remain to serve the broader interests of our country and as part of the legacy of the 2010 World Cup," he said.