FEDHASA urges Government to ‘keep momentum’ on remote worker visa

The Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) is calling on the government to maintain momentum following the announcement of new amended immigration regulations, including provisions for a remote worker visa. This long-awaited development promises to significantly enhance South Africa’s tourism value proposition and boost economic growth.

FEDHASA National Chairperson Rosemary Anderson expressed optimism about the positive impact of this visa on the hospitality industry. “We’ve been waiting for this for too long. By enabling remote workers to stay longer in our country, we can substantially boost our tourism value proposition, as these visitors will spend more money, benefiting various local businesses and services,” Anderson said.

The new regulations, officially gazetted by the Department of Home Affairs, introduce a remote working visa category. This visa allows foreign nationals earning over R1 million per year from foreign employers to legally work remotely from South Africa for extended periods. This move is expected to attract high-earning professionals and entrepreneurs to the country, driving economic growth and development.

“This is a significant step towards making South Africa an attractive destination for digital nomads and remote workers, who contribute significantly to the local economy through sustained spending on accommodation, dining, and other services,” Anderson added.

This milestone comes after two years of persistent advocacy by FEDHASA for the introduction of a remote worker visa. “Now that the remove worker visa is a reality, our focus will shift to ensuring our members are well-prepared to capitalise on the influx of remote workers,” Anderson said.

Businesses need to adapt by creating environments that cater to the needs of remote workers. This includes providing reliable high-speed internet, comfortable workspaces, and services that enhance their overall experience. By doing so, we can attract a steady stream of long-term visitors who will significantly contribute to our local economies,” she added.

The introduction of this visa aligns with global trends, where countries are competing to attract digital nomads by offering streamlined and flexible visa options. Statistics demonstrate the benefits of pro-tourism visa policies. For instance, the recent visa waiver between South Africa and Ghana led to a 249.4% increase in tourist arrivals from Ghana from January to March 2024. Similarly, visa-free access for Kenyans since January 2023 resulted in a 99% year-on-year spike in arrivals. These examples highlight the potential positive impact of the new remote worker visa on South Africa’s tourism industry.

FEDHASA urges the government to implement these visa regulations without further delays. “We look forward to continued collaboration with the Department of Home Affairs to ensure the successful implementation of these regulations and to further position South Africa as a premier destination for remote workers and other travellers,” concluded Anderson.

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