South Africa’s tourism industry looks to leverage visa reforms

A planned easing of visa restrictions has been welcomed by South Africa’s tourism industry, which is looking to boost lower arrival numbers and offset slowing domestic holiday travel.

An increasingly stringent visa regime has been cited by Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) as an underlying cause of the decline in inbound tourism last year. According to data issued in February, international arrivals fell by 6.8% over the course 2015.

However, a surge in visitors was recorded late in the year, with foreign arrivals up 5.4% year-on-year (y-o-y) in December, the height of South Africa’s summer break. Stakeholders will be looking for the new visa requirements to reinforce this trend in 2016 and beyond.

Relaxed restrictions

In early February the Department of Home Affairs announced plans to loosen some of the restrictions imposed over the past two years to make it easier for foreign visitors to apply for visas, including allowing Chinese tour companies to process visas on behalf of travellers and groups.

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Source: Oxford Business Group