Cape Town - China's top diplomat in South Africa, Ambassador Lin Songtian, on Friday said Pretoria's existing visa and permit laws for non-citizens do not support the country's ambitious drive to double tourist arrivals and attract investors to boost the economy.
"The headache issue for the tourist and investor here ... it's very hard to get a visa to South Africa. His Excellency [President Cyril Ramaphosa] addressed that question last night [during the State Of The Nation Address]," Ambassador Lin said as he addressed journalists at the Cape Town International Convention Centre after the signing ceremony of more than 90 trade agreements.
"Given the size and scope of China-South Africa cooperation and bilateral trade ... I'm sorry to tell you that you have only three visa officials in China. How can you expect one million tourists to come to South Africa? Only three visa officials in China, and we have long queues to wait for the visa.
"If it's hard for them [tourists] to get a visa, that means you are refusing them to come. If they cannot come here as tourists, how can they come here as investors? So that question is not difficult, it's a technical issue and I'm happy to be informed that the Honourable Minister of Home Affairs has already taken a decision to send more visa officials to China. I was very happy when I was informed this morning."
Lin said it remains "more difficult for a foreign investor to get a work permit" in South Africa.