Industry organisation the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) welcomes President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that South Africa will be streamlining and modernising its visa application process for travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work.
It calls for the visa overhaul to be rolled out swiftly.
“We were heartened to hear the reference to eVisas and that consideration is being given to remote working visas as we have been engaging with Government on bioth issues for some time,” says Fedhasa national chairperson Rosemary Anderson.
“The President confirmed that, as committed last year, the eVisa system had been launched in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.”
Fedhasa further urges government to lift the national state of disaster urgently and, with this, remove the polymerase chain reaction test requirement for inbound travellers, which is a major deterrent for inbound international tourism.
“Red tape and dysfunctional institutions need to be transformed into agile, professionally run entities, which create an enabling environment for tourism and hospitality to create jobs,” Anderson says.
However, Fedhasa welcomes Ramaphosa’s announcement that government’s role is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs.
There are several enabling factors that, if unlocked, would greatly help to stimulate job creation in the tourism and hospitality sector, explains Anderson.
“We are constrained by the red tape associated with liquor licence applications, for example. Restaurants, hotels, micro-breweries and other hospitality businesses such as taverns have to wait up to two years before they can get a licence issued by the Liquor Board.
“For tourism transport providers, the totally dysfunctional National Public Transport Regulator makes it impossible to obtain the right permits to transport tourists. The disintegration of this entity has led to the closure of wheels businesses and hampered job creation in this sector. These are just two examples of the many government entities and red tape that are currently inhibiting job creation,” she highlights.
The more difficult it is for travellers to come to South Africa, the fewer travellers will come. South Africa must consider how visa waivers and extensions, and special visas, such as that for remote workers, can enable tourism while still supporting national security.
“Although a South African visa website was launched for the issuing of eVisas, our current eVisa system does not fulfil the criteria for a world-class eVisa, as it is not fully automated. You still need to visit your embassy for the visa to be issued and the system seems to be offline currently, with mention on the site that it will only go live from next month,” notes Anderson.