The department of home affairs and the ministry of tourism are in ongoing discussions with various stakeholders around the new visa rules, Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom has said.
Hanekom said after consultation with Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, changes have been made to the new rules originally announced in order to minimize any negative impact on tourism.
Foreigners from China for example, one of South Africa’s key source markets, who are travelling with kids, will no longer be required to also have a translated copy of their unabridged birth certificates.
“That is now not required, an ordinary birth certificate issued in the country where you are applying for your visa is perfectly okay,” said Hanekom.
Also of immediate concern are the effects of the immigration regulations.
“Certain issues that need to be addressed are the physical presence when applying for a biometric visas and the long distances to various visa facilitation centres,” said Hanekom.
“The agreement that we have with the department is that they will put various visa facilitation centres closer to where they are living and that could make a big difference already.”
The minister said the department will be addressing this situation in major cities outside of Shanghai, Beijing, Deli and Mumbai for example.
“We need to find the right balance between appropriate measures to protect our boundaries, combat child trafficking and to do it in such a way that it has a minimal negative impact on tourism.”
Full details on the regulation issues are set to be released by the department of home affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete has said.
Speaking at the Tourism Africa Summit in Cape Town International Convention Centre Hanekom said it was important for South Africa to retain its competitive edge by meeting the demands of increasingly tech-savvy international and domestic travellers.
“We’ve got to modernize systems across the spectrum and we’ve got to modernize how we issue visas and move towards e-visas. Work is being done but it’s not strictly within our domain.”
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