South Africa will consider waiving the need for visitors from China, India and Russia to have a visa, said Mkuseli Apleni, director general of the Home Affairs Department.
The government is also considering granting visas on arrival to travelers who already have permits in their passports to travel to the U.S., U.K., Canada “or any other country that applies stringent checks on visitors to their countries, to ease travel for tourists,” Apleni told reporters on Friday in the capital, Pretoria.
South Africa is seeking to ease some restrictions after tourist operators objected to new rules requiring travelers from countries such as China to apply for permits in person and for minor children to carry a detailed birth document when traveling. The industry estimated the stricter laws would cost the economy 7.5 billion rand ($473 million) a year in lost revenue.
The government “is striking the balance between the need for state security, which is paramount and important and balancing that with the important economic driver that tourism is in our country,” David Frost, chief executive officer of the Southern Africa Tourism Services Association, told reporters in Pretoria.
Systems to capture biometric information are being tested at international airports in three cities and Chinese tour operators accredited by their country’s government and the South African Department of Tourism will be able to apply for visas on behalf of their customers, Apleni said. Business people and academics from Africa also have the option of applying for 10-year multiple-entry visas, he said.