Tough visa rules, treatment at airports hamper Africa tourism: SA minister
Africa can unlock its tourism potential once countries are more accessible to visitors through friendly travel visa rules and more direct flights.
This is according to South African Tourism minister, Derek Hanekom, who reckons the continent had made “little progress in visa issuance” while ill treatment of visitors at airports led to decline in tourist arrivals.
He cited cases where a visitor is turned away at the airport for lacking a travel document.
“Make it easy for people to come to your country; we seem to make it difficult for people to come to Africa,” he said last week at a tourism marketing gala in Durban.
“We need to take stock of which countries need visas and which ones don’t,” he said, adding that “discussions and commitments were impressive but implementation is a challenge”.
Mr Hanekom singled out online visa application and issuance on arrival as one of the innovative ways to encourage intra-Africa travel while also luring tourists from around the world.
He also noted that the strict visa rules were also limiting ease of doing business and cross border trade.
It is expected that Kenyans will soon be among those who can get the document on arrival, thus easing movement.
Currently, Kenyans travelling to South Africa have to wait five working days to get visas that are collected between noon and 3 pm daily.
The minister, however, did not give timelines to these possible changes and which countries would benefit.
The continent’s share of the tourism market stands at five per cent of the 1.2 billion people that visit different parts of the globe yearly.