DA Reiterates Calls for E-Visa's As SA Missions Run Out of Visa Papers [press release]

A recent report has indicated that the South African missions in China have run out of the visa papers needed to issue visas to Chinese travellers.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) has consistently called for an e-visa system and biometrics on arrival to facilitate easier access for tourists to South Africa. I will therefore write to the Director-General of the Department of Tourism (DoT), Kingsley Makhubela, asking when his department will complete the study, announced on 24 October 2014, looking into introducing an e-visa system.
A study commissioned by the Tourism and Business Council of South Africa on the impact of the new immigration regulations, which require in-person visa applications, indicates that the country may lose 270 000 international tourists and in turn lose 21 000 jobs each year – costing the country R9.7 billion.
The DA is in favour of e-visas and biometrics on arrival for the following reasons:
Electronic visas and biometrics on arrival will cut turnaround times for the issuing of travel documentation;
Electronic visas are more secure than existing permits;
Electronic visas have proven to be highly effective in comparable countries such as Turkey, which is widely regarded to have the best international practice when it comes to visa applications; and
Continuing with the current policy risks considerable local job losses in the industry owing to the additional burden of costs placed on incoming visitors, deterring them from travel to SA
If government fails to implement e-visas and biometrics on arrival it will be unable to achieve its tourism related targets of increasing the number of foreign visitor arrivals to more than 15 million annually by 2017 and to increase the contribution of tourism to our GDP.
Tourism is the only economic sector in which we compete against every other country in the world. International tourism to South Africa grew by an annual average of 7% over the past two years. Against a backdrop of prolonged strikes in other key sectors and a general level of economic stagnation, it is the only major industry bucking the trend.
Further, the financial cost of introducing biometric data-capturing on arrival will be much lower than the economic cost of scaring off tourists, trade and investment.
The DoT must complete the study and table the findings as the country’s tourism industry is under severe pressure from the overly stringent immigration regulations.
James Vos
Shadow Minister of Tourism

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