Johannesburg - Requiring British tourists to obtain visas to visit South Africa could negatively affect the country's economy, Beeld reported on Tuesday.

It would be “short-sighted”, as Britain was South Africa's largest tourist market, Pretoria tourism expert Martin van Niekerk told the newspaper.

Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor reportedly said in Parliament last week that, with Britain seemingly reluctant to lift the visa requirements for South Africans which were instituted amid the forgery of passports four years ago, this country might “consider reciprocity”.

“We (South Africa) have to be seen as their (Britain's) equal. We have to treat each other like partners,” home affairs spokesman Ronnie Mamoepa was quoted as telling the newspaper.

Beeld reported that Prof Sanette Ferreira, of Stellenbosch University's geography and environmental studies department, disagreed with the implementation of a visa system for the wrong reasons.

It could work if it was done for state security reasons, and if an efficient, speedy application system could be put in place, she told the newspaper, but conceded that complex logistics with visa applications would probably deter British visitors.

She also warned that South Africa did not have the capacity to sustain such a system. We're already struggling to produce ID books,” she reportedly said. - Sapa