JOHANNESBURG – The South African government announced on Tuesday a plan to make its visa policy more flexible in an effort to boost tourism and business travel, helping get the country out of its current economic recession.
The changes were announced by Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba, who pointed out that millions of South Africans depend on jobs created by around 10 million annual visitors, including tourists, students, business trips and other groups.
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“We are simplifying visa requirements for countries such as China and India,” the ministry said in a statement. “This will make provision for taking biometrics on arrival in South Africa; allow visa applications via courier and issuing 5-year multiple entry visas.”
“South Africa will also issue 10-year multiple entry visas within five days of applications to business people from the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa),” the official South African news agency added via Twitter.
The measures include, among others, visa waiver negotiations for new countries and three-year multiple entry visas for frequent visitors, while minors will no longer require written consent from both parents and a copy of their birth certificate to enter the country.
The easing of the visa rules had been anticipated on Friday when the country’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa, announced a package of measures designed to revitalize the economy.
Earlier this month, it was confirmed that Africa’s most industrialized nation was in a recession after accumulating two consecutive quarters of decreasing GDP.
Although analysts predicted South Africa’s economy would expand by 0.6 percent in the second quarter of 2018, it suffered a 0.7 percent drop, which added to the 2.6 percent contraction registered in the previous three months, according to data released by the official statistical institute.