File picture: Mujahid Safodien/AP
Durban - South African Tourism (SA Tourism) has welcomed the Department of Home Affairs announcement that seven countries have been added to the list of countries that do not require a visa for travel to South Africa. This brings the total number of visa waiver countries to 75.

Minister of Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement during his department's Budget Vote speech in Parliament on Wednesday. 

“This is amazing news and could not have come at better time for the tourism industry,” said SA Tourism Acting CEO, Sthembiso Dlamini.

“As we look to achieve our 5-in-5 goals which is to increase international tourist arrivals by 4 million and domestic holiday trips by 1 million, the visa waivers will go a long way to assisting the increase of tourist arrivals into South Africa.”  

“The visa waivers to countries in all of our key markets will ensure that we stimulate growth in the industry that is in line with the mandate issued to us by President Cyril Ramaphosa,” added Dlamini.
 
Home Affairs has also committed to employing additional staff to key markets where there is high demand for visas to decrease the turnaround time. 

“Home Affairs offices that process visas for India, China and Nigeria will receive additional human resources is a further indication and commitment by government to ensure that the tourism industry is prioritized,” Dlamini said.

Motsoaledi also announced that plans for an online visa application system, as announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his State of the Nation Address, were underway.

The latest visa-free countries are:

Cuba 

* Ghana

* New Zealand

* Qatar

* Sao Tome and Principe

* Saudi Arabia

* United Arab Emirates

IOL