Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi. File photo: Siyabulela Duda/GCIS.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa's home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi said on Thursday he had granted visa-free status to Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand, among seven countries singled out for the concession in a bid to boost tourism.

In a statement, Motsoaledi said his department would implement visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba and Principe and Sao Tome once negotiations were concluded at the end of August.

“As from today ... travellers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand will no longer require a visa to visit South Africa for holidays, conferencing and business meeting visits," he said.

"We took this decision unilaterally but we are engaging these countries to see how they can relax entry requirements for our citizens. I am glad to say that Qatar has already waived visa requirements for South Africans and this will enable our people to attend the Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 easier."

He said the department of home affairs was continuously reviewing its operations to contribute towards economic growth, facilitate the creation of jobs and secure South Africa's borders.

"The department has an important contribution to make in growing tourism and by extension growing the economy and creating jobs," said Motsoaledi.

"We are constantly reviewing our operations to ensure that we relax entry requirements without compromising our responsibility towards the safety and security of our citizens."

South Africa has already waived visa requirements for 82 of the 193 countries who are members of the United Nations, including 18 from Africa. All Southern African Development Community member states enjoy this status, with the exception of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

- African News Agency (ANA)