Visa overhaul must be rolled out swiftly – FEDHASA says post-SONA

FEDHASA has welcomed President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement during last night’s SONA that South Africa would be streamlining and modernising its visa application process to make it to travel to South Africa for tourism, business and work.

The president confirmed that, as committed last year, the eVisa system had been launched in 14 countries, including China, India, Kenya and Nigeria.

“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 both issues for some time,” says Rosemary Anderson, FEDHASA National Chairperson.

“The harder we make it for travellers to come to South Africa, the fewer travellers will come. We 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 website – https://www.southafricavisa.com/ – has been 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,” adds Anderson.

FEDHASA also welcomed President Ramaphosa’s affirmation that Government’s role is to create an enabling environment for the private sector to create jobs. He said: “The key task of government is to create the conditions that will enable the private sector – both big and small – to emerge, to grow, to access new markets, to create new products, and to hire more employees.”

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 NPTR (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.”

FEDHASA further urges Government to list the national state of disaster urgently and with this the removal of the PCR test requirement for inbound travellers. “This is a major deterrent

for inbound international tourism and we need to align ourselves with other major international destinations which require only proof of vaccination for travellers to visit.”

“Red tape and dysfunctional institutions need to be transformed into agile, professionally run entities which create an enabling environment for tourism and hospitality to do what it does best, create jobs,” Anderson concludes.

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