De Lille calls for revision of visa regime in all African countries to unlock potential of African tourism market

South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille delivering her speech at Africa Travel Indaba 2023. Picture: Tumi Pakisi

South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille delivering her speech at Africa Travel Indaba 2023. Picture: Tumi Pakisi

Published May 10, 2023


South African Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille is calling on the revision of VISA regimes in all African countries in order to unlock the full potential of the African tourism sector.

The minister made the call during her speech at Africa Travel Indaba 2023, currently taking place at Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.

Speaking to delegates at the Indaba, the minister revealed that South Africa has seen encouraging growth in its tourist arrival numbers between January and December 2022.

She said that visitor numbers reached nearly 5.8 million, with over 4 million of those arrivals from African countries.

“We must have a harmonised visa regime across the continent to make it easier for visitors to move from one country to another. We must also simplify the e-visa application process and reduce visa costs to make Africa a more attractive destination for both Africans and international travellers,” said De Lille.

The South African Tourism Minister also revealed that during their discussions, the ministers of tourism from other African countries attending the event committed to prioritising the issue of visas.

“South Africa has visa waivers for several African countries for a specified period and up to a maximum of 90 days, including SADC countries such as Tanzania, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius, Malawi and Botswana. We have also rolled out the e-visa system to several countries, including Kenya, Nigeria, Egypt, Ethiopia, Uganda, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and we are expanding the e-visa system to an additional 20 countries,” said de Lille.

The SA Tourism Minister also highlighted that a critical area in African travel that needs to be addressed is air access or airlift capacity.

According to the minister, although on the global stage, Africa is the strongest performer currently with international air connectivity in Africa, this growth has been uneven, with some African regions and countries having better airlift connectivity than others.

She revealed that she was also asked for everyone to work together to get South African Airways back to its regional connections, which they will be working on.

“I am looking forward to working with various partners in reducing the high cost of air travel in Africa as we know that this deters visitors and thereby limit tourism growth,” said the minister.

Despite some challenges, De Lille said there are some positive developments in the African aviation sector.

“For example, some African airlines are expanding their fleets and increasing their routes to meet the growing demand for air travel. Yesterday, we heard from the Minister of Tourism from eSwatini that they’re are also putting on a flight between Durban and eSwatini and, also eSwatini and Zimbabwe, so well done minster, for that,” said De Lille.

She also revealed that The African Union (AU) has also launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM), which aims to liberalise air transport on the continent and promote greater competition and connectivity.

Read the latest issue of IOL Travel digital magazine here.