SA tests e-visa for India

In an effort to double its numbers from India by 2030, South Africa’s tourism ministry recently announced an e-visa regime for Indian passport holders on a pilot basis. The project was launched in the fourth week of January 2020.

Hazel Jain

South African Tourism recently concluded the 17th edition of its three-city roadshow in Mumbai where the country’s Minister of Tourism joined the delegation to make some path-breaking announcements. Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, Minister of Tourism, South Africa, said, “We want to remove the barriers for entry into South Africa for Indian travellers and for this, we will introduce an online visa application system (launched in January 2020). This will be on a pilot basis for now and we will look at introducing it formally with full implementation by April this year.” This was keeping in line with the ambitious aim of South African Tourism to cross 100,000 visitors from India in 2020 and effectively doubling the numbers and touching 21 million arrivals from India by 2030. The minister also held an exclusive session with key travel trade partners from Mumbai.

This will be on a pilot basis for now and we will look at introducing it formally with full implementation by April this year

About 32 agents attended the morning session where they discussed ideas on how they can push numbers.

With this e-visa process, the turnaround time will be around five days, but with no change in visa fee. The minister added, “We also wanted to have a visa fee waiver for Indian travellers, but this was not passed. However, our ultimate aim for India will be to waive it off. Two countries – India and China – will be part of this new e-visa pilot programme.”

She added that another issue with visas was multiple entry. “A Memorandum of Understanding has been signed between the South African Minister of Home Affairs and their counterpart in India for this, where a few types of travellers such as business travellers, diplomats, frequent travellers to South Africa will be afforded multiple entries. We are waiting forour Parliament to ratify this,” Kubayi-Ngubane said. The minister recalled that South Africa had also recently abolished the need for the unabridged birth certificates necessary for travelling minors.

“We will now have a more focused marketing strategy for India. We are very keen on enhancing our sports tourism, incentive groups and weddings apart from families,” she said. Her ministry is also in talks with a couple of airlines – Indian and Middle Eastern – that fly to both India and South Africa to connect the two nations with a direct flight.

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