Cape Town pegged to get one-stop visa centre

2015-07-07 11:38
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Cape Town - The destination marketing, investment and trade promotion agency for the Western Cape has hosted a legislation workshop aimed at constructive engagements between certain sectors, like the film industry, and the Department of Home Affairs - in response to the recent impact of SA visa and immigration rule changes.

READ: No use throwing stones over visa rules - DHA deputy minister

Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro, said during the workshop that he would be looking into the creation of a one-stop visa services centre in Cape Town, similar to one being rolled out by the department in Gauteng.

The department of home affairs launched a premium visa and permit centre in Sandton for senior corporate executives seeking to make visa applications, at the end of May. 

According to Fin24, Harris said he would prioritise a visit to the Sandton Visa centre to assess implementation in order to do the same in Cape Town. 

The Sandton premium visa and permit centre was launched in partnership with VFS Global and the Gauteng Growth and Development Agency, the premium centre is aimed at alleviating the pressure of visa applications management for company executives, and other foreign employees within these corporates, who are holders of temporary residence visas. The application process is expected to take about ten minutes and applicants will only have to wait about four months, instead of the usual eight, to receive their visa or permit. 

Most of the application process will also be done electronically, with applicants able to make appointments and payments online. The biometrics and applications will be approved at the department’s Head Office in Pretoria.  

READ: China opens first visa centre in South Africa

Recent figures released by Statistics SA for the first quarter of 2015 show South African tourism is in crisis, with a 6% drop in total foreign tourist arrivals. 

For the first quarter of 2015, there was a decline in foreign tourist arrivals from the majority of overseas markets to South Africa. Tourist arrivals from the UK bucked the overall trend, showing an increase of 5% for the quarter. 

Overall, tourist arrivals from overseas markets declined by 6.8% during the first quarter of 2015 according to Stats SA data, with big drops recorded from Russia (down 47%) and Brazil (down 34%).

China is down 38%, even though the first quarter includes the Chinese New Year which is a time when the Chinese normally travel extensively, while India showed a 13% decline.

Tourist arrivals from Africa dropped 5.6% in total with significant declines from Nigeria (down 15%) and Uganda (down 19%).

The xenophobic attacks which flared up in SA towards the end of the first quarter are not to blame, said Lee-Anne Bac, director, advisory services at Grant Thornton, since they did not form part of the period under review.

However, new regulations requiring foreign tourists who need visas to appear in person and submit biometric data most definitely played a part.

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