• The department of tourism said the first e-visas to South Africa will be issued in New Zealand in April.
• The new visas will allow prospective visitors to apply for a visa online, and print visas at home.
• The Western Cape investment agency said they have already seen New Zealand bookings increase by 7%, and is expecting that number to rise.
South Africa’s first ever e-visas will be issued in New Zealand in April, the tourism department’s communications director, Blessing Manale, said.
The new visas, first announced by president Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Union (SONA) address in February, will allow prospective visitors to apply for a visa online.
Once granted, the e-visa can be printed at home. Currently, tourists have to visit a South African embassy to be granted a visa.
Manale said the new e-visas will be piloted in New Zealand before a global rollout.
The new e-visas, alongside relaxed visa rules for minors in December, will hopefully help to grow South Africa’s international tourism industry, Manale told Business Insider South Africa.
The South African government aims to have 21 million tourists visiting the country by 2030, up from 10 million in 2018.
“South Africa is also finalizing the development of a new biometric movement control system which will be piloted at Cape Town and Lanseria International Airports [to improve passenger processing],” Manale said.
Other improvements include the introduction of long multiple entry visas for frequent and trusted travellers to South Africa, and simplified visa requirements specifically for China and India.
Cornelis van der Waal, Head of Research at the Western Cape’s investment agency Wesgro, said New Zealand bookings to Cape Town already increased by 7% from April 2018 to April 2019, up from 409 to 437.
He said the new visa rules will result in an additional increase of tourism numbers “over time.”
“Visa relaxation measures will take some time to make an impact. People don’t choose a destination for next week,” Van der Waal told Business Insider South Africa.
“Certainly not one with historical stringent regulations in place [such as South Africa].”