“Tourism will soar if we relax visa requirements for entry into South Africa. We know that Tourism is very important for job creation,” he said.
“Out of the 193 countries who are member states of the United Nations, the Department has granted visa-free status to 75 countries. Of these 16 are in our continent and are SADC members and 59 are from all over the world.”
The department announced that the following countries will now be able to enter the country, visa-free:
- United Arab Emirates
- New Zealand
- Saudi Arabia
- Sao Tome and Principe
The minister said that his office will immediately enter into discussions with the countries about how a visa-free regime will work, with “homework” still needing to be done for countries like China, India and Nigeria.
“While we are busy tackling the matter of the three countries, we shall this financial year increase two and a half times the number of people who work for Home Affairs to process visas in both China and India. We shall double the number of people who process visas to our country in Nigeria,” he said.
Speaking to BusinessTech a department spokesperson said that the countries announced by the minister only apply to inbound visas (citizens from the listed countries visiting South Africa), and that outbound visas (South Africans visiting the countries listed) need to be negotiated on a country-by-country basis.
The department noted that some countries, such as Qatar and Ghana, already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa.
According to the latest Henley Passport Index, South Africans can visit 99 countries around the globe visa-free.