Major win for tourism as Cabinet approves changes to visa rules following lobby efforts

By Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities:

I welcome the news that the National Government has revised its onerous visa regulations. The regulations were promulgated last year, severely impacting jobs and growth in our tourism sector. We have not yet won the battle against these regulations but we hope these revisions will go some way to reversing the downward trends we’ve seen.

In a major win, it will no longer be mandatory for travellers from visa exempt countries to present unabridged birth certificates.

Particularly encouraging is the acceptance of applications by post and the conducting of biometric fingerprint on arrival for countries in which no SA missions exist.

As a major tourist destination, we are pleased that Cape Town is one of the first pilot sites for this initiative.

It is our hope that biometrics on arrival can eventually apply to all countries.

We also welcome a commitment to increase Visa Facilitation Service Centres in our key emerging markets, including China, India, Africa and the Middle East.

Accredited travel agents will also be granted the right to deal with visa applications from tourists in some of our BRICS partner countries.

Many of these recommendations were contained in a report we submitted to the Inter-Ministerial Committee last month. The report was the accumulation of case studies and stakeholder input compiled by our Red Tape Reduction Unit.