Tourism Minister welcomes economic stimulus package

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom has welcomed the Economic Stimulus and Recovery Package announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa, which includes immigration reforms approved by Cabinet.

This follows a joint presentation from the Ministers of Home Affairs and Tourism to Cabinet on 19 September on a number of visa-related reforms that will make it easier for tourists, business people and academia to come to South Africa.

“It was agreed by Cabinet that visa requirements should be simplified for China and India. On 1 October 2018, South Africa will therefore implement an agreement on the simplification of visa requirements with China in order to attract larger numbers of tourists, business people and family members from this country.

“South Africa will also finalise an agreement on similar simplifications of visa requirements with India on 28 September 2018 in order to ease the movement of tourists and business people to South Africa,” Minister Hanekom said.

Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba announced that negotiations for Visa Waiver Agreements are being finalised with a number of countries.  

These are mainly in Africa and the Middle East and include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, São Tomé and Príncipe, Tunisia, Saharawi-Arab Democratic Republic, Ghana, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, State of Palestine, Iran, Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Belarus, Georgia, and Cuba.

The move towards an e-visa system, which is at an advanced stage, will be piloted in New Zealand by April 2019.

This will significantly enhance efficiency in the issuing of visas to tourists and business people visiting South Africa. The New Zealand pilot will enable government to improve on any challenges so that it can be rolled out to other countries.

For travelling foreign minors, amendments to the current regulations have been agreed by Cabinet in line with the recommendations of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

From the end of October 2018, South Africa will issue a Travel Advisory for minors not travelling with both parents. The amendment to the regulations will be gazetted by the Minister of Home Affairs for information in October 2018.

“From the end of October 2018, when both parents travel with a minor, no additional documentation will be required. In the case where only one parent or a legal guardian, or another adult travels with a child, he/she may be required by an immigration officer to establish the adult’s relationship with the child,” the Minister said.

In this event, documentation, including a letter of consent will be requested. However, the consent letter will no longer need to be in the form of an affidavit.

“In cases where the documentation is requested, the adult travelling with the minor will be given an opportunity to produce the documents after arrival,” said Minister Hanekom.

Training of immigration officers will take place before and after the implementation date of the revised regulations.

“I am certain these amendments to the immigration regulations will boost tourism to put us in line to reach our targets of increasing the direct contribution of tourism to the GDP from R118 billion in 2015 to R302 billion in 2026, while increasing direct jobs supported by the sector from 703 000 to one million,” said Hanekom.    

The amended immigration regulations will be gazetted in October 2018. –