The World Travel & Tourism Council has congratulated the government of South Africa for adopting new visa policies that will see the implementation of biometric visa applications on arrival and changes to the unabridged birth certificate policy.
The new recommendations that were presented by an inter-ministerial committee that was set up to address the visa issue in the country were accepted by the cabinet and will be implemented over the next three months to over a year.
In the next three months medical travellers and visitors from countries that have no South African mission can apply for a visa by post rather than having to appear in person at centres to apply for a visa. In this same period the government will also start collecting biometrics at the port of entry.
After three months to a year, South Africa will be expanding the number of visa facilitations centres in key countries whilst after a year the government will move towards a pre-flight biometrics checking system at international airports.
Furthermore, foreign travellers under 18 no longer have to carry copies of an unabridged birth certificates.
South African minors have to continue to bring a certificate when they travel, though the name has changed to a “birth certificate containing parental details” as to avoid confusion.
This certificate can be printed in passports, which means that parents no longer need to carry birth certificates on them.
The government will implement these changes within the next three months to a year.
WTTC president David Scowsill said: “WTTC is extremely pleased that the South African government has decided to adopt new visa policies that ensure a smoother visa application process for business and leisure travellers that are looking to visit this great destination.”
South Africa is a rich tourism economy, in 2014 our sector contributed 9.4 per cent to the country’s total GDP, which accounts to a total of ZAR357 billion, a number which is expected to grow by 3.4 per cent in 2015.
Scowsill continued: “In order to benefit from the great economic and social benefits of our sector WTTC encourages governments to provide visitors with a safe and smooth passage, which means adopting smarter visa processes, more visa waiver agreements and trusted traveller programmes.
“Today’s announcement by the South African government is an important step in the right direction. However, it is important for the government to ensure these changes are implemented in a timely and appropriate manner and that the government continues to look for ways to improve its visa processes.
“There is more scope for the government to attract a higher number of visitors through more favourable visa policies.”