Rishabh Thapar, Director at global hospitality consultancy HVS Africa, singled out the fast tracking of online visa applications as a welcome.

JOHANNESBURG - Measures announced by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba this week to relax visa regulations will make coming to and from South African a lot easier for business and leisure travellers, a senior industry official said on Thursday.

Rishabh Thapar, Director at global hospitality consultancy HVS Africa, singled out the fast tracking of online visa applications as a welcome, albeit long overdue move.

“These steps are in line with international standards and will most certainly encourage international visitors, which in turn will benefit the economy," he said.

Thapar said many holiday itineraries the world over were planned one to four weeks in advance and "cumbersome" visa processes as well as long processing times of four to eight weeks were often a deterrent for travellers.

"We have seen a huge increase in the e-visas filed in every major economy that has adopted the e-visa system in recent years, and simplification of the process will definitely lead to increased tourist arrivals as well," said Thapar.

Communication of these changes in tourist and business visas in the respective countries would be key and must be incorporated into South Africa’s overall tourism marketing campaign, he added.

“We hope to see these initiatives implemented soon so that their positive impact can be felt ahead of the 2019 tourism summer season," he added.

- African News Agency (ANA)