The South Africa Department of Tourism said that the first e-Visas would be issued to citizens of New Zealand starting April this year. The new electronic visas for South Africa were first announced by the country's president Cyril Ramphosa during his State of the Union address last February. Prospective travelers will be able to obtain their visa to South Africa online. Blessing Manale, communications director of the Department of Tourism, said that the new e-visas will be first piloted in New Zealand to test the system.
South Africa implemented relaxed visa rules for minors earlier in December 2018. Manale told Business Insider that the new e-Visas and the relaxed visa rules are expected to contribute to the growth of the tourism industry in South Africa.
The South African government hopes that by 2030, 21 million tourists visit the country. In 2010, the country welcomed about 11 million tourists. "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," Manale said.
Among other actions to be implemented, a long, multiple entry visa for frequent and trusted travelers to South Africa has been proposed. Another improvement includes simplifying visa requirements for certain nationalities, specifically India and China.
Head of Research at the Western Cape's investment agency Wesgro, Cornelis van der Waal, has said that New Zealand bookings to Cape Town increased by 7 percent in comparison to last year. According to van der Waal, the new visa rules would contribute to an increase in tourism numbers. "Visa relaxation measures will take some time to make an impact. People don't choose a destination for next week," van der Waal said.
How will the e-Visa for South Africa work?
The e-Visa for South Africa will be first rolled out to citizens of New Zealand. The South African government had announced that the test would begin in April this year. The goal of an electronic system is to simplify the process of getting a visa to travel to a specific country.
The South Africa e-Visa system would require eligible travelers to complete an online form with their personal details, travel information and passport data. Most likely, it will have a security questions section. Anyone applying for the South Africa e-Visa will need a valid passport, a debit or credit card, and an email address. The debit or credit card are needed to pay for the visa fee. The email address is a requirement so that the applicant can receive notifications from the government about the status of their e-Visa.
Many countries already have an electronic visa system in place. Egypt, Brazil, Kuwait, Turkey, among others, also launched e-Visa programmes to attract more tourist to their territory. An electronic visa allows a traveler to complete an online application from the comfort of their home or office. They are no longer required to go to an embassy or consulate to process their visa application. Furthermore, an e-Visa system is believed to contribute to the security of the country issuing the visa.
The South Africa e-Visa will be tested with citizens of New Zealand to identify glitches and improve the system before it is offered to more countries.