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Tourism Minister excited over changes to visa requirements

Some visa requirements for people travelling in & out of SA have been relaxed.

A kayaker looks at a Southern Right with the Cape Town Stadium in the background. The whales were swimming on the Atlantic Seaboard just off Mouille Point. Picture: Kaskazi Kayaks"

JOHANNESBURG - Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom says his department plans to communicate new changes to South Africa's visa requirements with travel agencies and embassies around the world.

It was announced on Friday that some of the controversial requirements for people coming in and out of the country have been relaxed.

This includes the documents that parents had to carry if travelling with underage children.

Hanekom described as 'significant' the changes made.

He says there are other important adjustments.

"The other very significant change is those big growing markets where they will no longer be required to go in person to apply for visas. Applicants will be able to do it through an accredited travel agency. Those are very big changes."

Hanekom says he's excited about the new changes.

"It's a package which changes the requirements for travellers to South Africa quite significantly."

The minister says a campaign will be launched to communicate the changes to embassies and travel agencies around the world.

LISTEN: Visa regulations relaxed

CHANGES:

WITHIN 3 MONTHS:

  • Implement the capturing of biometrics at ports of entry starting with a pilot at OR Tambo, King Shaka and Cape Town airports.

  • Look at introducing an accredited tourism company programme for countries like China, India and Russia.

  • Consider a long-term multiple entry visa for a period exceeding three months and up to three years for frequent travellers (for business meetings), business people and academics.

  • Principals will issue letters confirming permission for children to travel on school tours.

  • Extend the validity of the parental consent affidavit to six months.

WITHIN A YEAR:

  • Add visa facilitation centres, including in Zimbabwe, United Arab Emirates and Botswana.

  • Consider a visa-waiver for India, China, Russia and other countries.

  • Look at issuing visas on arrival for persons travelling to SA having in their passports valid visas for the UK, USA and Canada or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists.

  • Consider granting a certain category of frequent travellers (business and academics) from Africa a 10 year multiple entry visitor's visa.

  • Open two business visa facilitation centres in Durban and Port Elizabeth, in addition to the centre recently opened in Sandton.

  • Print parents' details in their passports so that they do not have to carry birth certificates.

LONG TERM & BEYOND:

  • Install systems for pre-flight checks at international airports.

  • Upgrade advance passenger processing systems and implement passenger name record, to enhance risk assessment.

  • Finalise automation of the visa and permitting system.

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