JOHANNESBURG - Tourism minister Derek Hanekom said on Friday that he was working "very closely together" with home affairs minister Malusi Gigaba to rectify South Africa's visa regime in a bid to attract more travelers into the country and boost investment and tourism.
Last month, Gigaba announced that South Africa would ease some immigration rules, including agreeing visa waiver agreements with more countries, in an effort to boost investment and tourism as part of a broader economic turnaround programme announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa.
Gigaba, who was heavily criticized for imposing stringent regulations in 2016 which affected the tourism industry, said the new rules would enable tourists, businesses and investors eased access into the country to sustain economic activity generated by these travelers.
Speaking on the sidelines of the South Africa Investment Conference 2018, Hanekom said they were making "rapid progress" now following Ramaphosa's intervention in the visa regulations debacle.
"The visa issue should have been addressed a long time ago. it's hardly needs to be said that there was a period during which we certainly were not making any progress as a country. But since President Cyril Ramaphosa has been installed as president of the country, progress is happening, tangible progress including visas," Hanekom said.
"Things are never quite as fast as one would like them to be, but things are happening very fast at the moment and there is a seriousness. And myself and the minister of home affairs are working very closely together to ensure that visas and visa requirements do not stand in the way of people coming to South Africa."
At total of 1,300 delegates, comprising of invited business leaders and civil society, attended the three-day inaugural South Africa Investment Conference 2018 on Friday in Johannesburg. A total of R35 billion investment commitments was announced by various multinational companies during the conference.
Hanekom said that the feedback he had received from many of the attendees he engaged with was that investors now had the appetite to invest in South Africa and that sentiment was changing because government was starting to do the right things.
- African News Agency (ANA)