Earlier this week, Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba, announced that a series of relaxed visa regulations would be implemented in the near future making travelling to and from South African a lot easier for business and leisure travellers.
One such amendment was the fast-tracking of online visa applications which, although long overdue, is a welcomed move by the tourism industry especially in light of World Tourism Day, taking place today, which this year has a special focus on digital transformation in the sector.
According to Rishabh Thapar, Director at HVS Africa, the largest independent global hospitality consultancy, the tourism and hospitality sector is pleased to see this kind of action being taken. “These steps are in line with international standards and will most certainly encourage international visitors, which in turn will benefit the economy.
“Many holiday itineraries the world over are planned one to four weeks in advance nowadays and cumbersome visa process and long processing times (of 4 to 8 weeks) are 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.”
Overall, Thapar says that the 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. “We hope to see these initiatives implemented soon so that their positive impact can be felt ahead of the 2019 tourism summer season.”