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South African Home Affairs Implements Visa Waivers for Top Tourist Countries

The Minister of Home Affairs Dr Aaron Motsoaledi is pleased to announce that nationals from four of the seven countries he granted visa-free status during his Budget Vote speech will be able to travel to South Africa without visas from today.

He said the Department would implement visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba and Principe and Sao Tome after negotiations with these countries have been concluded. The Department is scheduled to complete these negotiations by the end of August 2019 and the implementation will follow soon thereafter.
“As from today, 15 August 2019, travelers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and New Zealand will no longer require a visa to visit South Africa for holidays, conferencing and business meeting visits. We took this decision unilaterally but we are engaging these countries to see how they can relax entry requirements for our citizens. I am glad to say that Qatar has already waived visa requirements for South Africans and this will enable our people to attend Qatar FIFA World Cup 2022 easier,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

The Department of Home Affairs is continuously reviewing its operations to contribute in growing the economy, facilitating the creation of jobs and securing our borders.

“The Department of Home Affairs has an important contribution to make in growing tourism and by extension growing the economy and creating jobs. We are constantly reviewing our operations to ensure that we relax entry requirements without compromising our responsibility towards the safety and security of our citizens,” said Motsoaledi.

Already, South Africa has waived the visa requirement for 82 of the 193 countries who are members of the United Nations. Eighteen of the countries enjoying a visa free status in South Africa are on the continent with all Southern African Development Community countries enjoying this status, except for the Democratic Republic of Congo.

These countries which are enjoying the visa free status are among the nations which account for the majority of the international tourist sending states on the continent, Europe and the Americas.

“The Department has already sent directives to ports of entry, airlines and our missions abroad informing them of the removal of visa requirements for nationals of these countries who wish to visit our beautiful country for tourism or business meetings,” said Minister Motsoaledi.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: SA Department of Home Affairs [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2].

Cape Town to Newark, New Jersey Direct Flight Coming in December 2019

A new direct route between Cape Town and Newark, New Jersey, USA will be taking to the skies in December.

The seasonal route will be operated by United Airlines – their only route to Africa after they ended their Nigerian route a few years ago – and will operate between Cape Town International Airport and Newark Liberty International from 15 December 2019.

It will be a three-times-weekly service on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday from Newark, departing at 20:30 and arriving in Cape Town the next day at 18:00, and will depart again at 20:50 and arrive in Newark at 5:45. The flights will be serviced by a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

It will cut travel time by eight hours for a round trip flight.

This is just another feather in the cap for the Cape Town Air Access team, making this their 15th new direct route since they started in 2015. According to Wesgro CEO Tim Harris, the new route is projected to bring in R425 million in direct tourism spending to the province by 2021, and R238 million in the first year of operation.

“By expanding air connectivity, we can expand opportunities for people, especially youth,” said David Maynier, Western Cape Minister for Finance and Economic Opportunities, at the launch.

It’s also expected to grow the US market by 20%, create 890 new jobs in the province in the first year and drastically increase cargo capacity between the two countries.

“We are grateful for the work done by our partners, especially the direct air access team,” lauded the city’s mayor Dan Plato.

“We see Cape Town, South Africa, as the gateway to Africa, and we have a lot to offer to the rest of the world.”

Why a direct route to Newark?

Americans are the third largest source market for tourists in Western Cape, after the UK and Germany, and while there has only been a 2% increase in passengers between 2017 and 2018, Business Class passengers grew by 19% in that same period.

Despite these numbers, New York (which is fed by Newark Liberty International) is one of Cape Town’s most under-served markets, followed by Brussels and Hamburg. Harris also noted that US travelers are also not beholden to seasonal travel – their numbers remain quite consistent throughout the year, even in the off-peak seasons when the city becomes a bit chilly.

And not only will a direct route boost tourism numbers, it will also boost trade exports and imports. Western Cape sells more to the US than it imports, and the US is its third biggest export market. The top six exports from the province to the US are products of iron or non-alloy steel, jewelry of precious metal, engine parts, citrus fruit, wine and yachts.

There will be a push to turn the seasonal route into a year-long route, but this is dependent on regular two-way traffic between the two countries. While marketing the US as a leisure destination to South Africans with the weak rand might be tough, the focus from SA Tourism’s side will instead be on the lucrative business travel sector.

Another point made by Harris was that the success of the air access program is the public-private partnership involved in route development, something that is unique in the world.

“We are competing with thousands of destinations around the world.”

“It is important to know what’s happening in the business sector when meeting with airlines, which is why you need a collaborative approach.”

What it means for South Africa

But the benefits won’t only be reaped by Western Cape.

For SA Tourism’s acting CEO Sthembiso Dlamini, direct air access is the best way to grow brand awareness of a country.

“Air access is very important in the business of tourism, which is a key economic growth factor for South Africa,” said Dlamini at the launch.

SA Tourism has plans and campaigns in place on the ground to drive traffic for the December launch.

“One of the key barriers to travel to South Africa is that it is too costly to get here from an airline’s point of view. So the first interaction a tourist or potential traveller has with a destination is through an airline ticket.”

“A lot of people say ‘you are not affordable’, but these issues are around perception. When you look at the currency or exchange rate, you get a lot of value for experiences using the dollar in South Africa.”

Other barriers highlighted by Dlamini are the appeal of other destinations over South Africa, concerns for personal safety and uncertain political climate – but these are, again, all an issue of perception according to Dlamini.

International visitors to SA saw a marked decrease of 1.3% between January and April 2019 compared to last year, while the domestic market saw an increase. SA Tourism plans to capitalize on this by reviving the ‘We Do Tourism’ campaign this year and getting corporates that aren’t necessarily in the tourism sector involved.

“We want to ensure that South Africans understand the value of tourism and the role that they need to play in ensuring that this sector grows,” says Dlamini.

While the US market saw a growth between 2016 and 2018 of 4.5%, major market China saw a 9% decline, which Dlamini claims is partly because the Chinese traveler doesn’t like layovers and want to fly direct.

She also noted that forward bookings were down for January almost 10%, as the peak booking period for this time took place during the drought crisis in Cape Town.

Besides the national markets, SA Tourism also wants to focus on special interest groups, LGBTQ+ travelers, repeat travelers, Millennials, and the meetings, conferences, and events sector.

Most US visitors travel to Western Cape, Gauteng and Mpumalanga, with traction seen in Limpopo, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape. SA Tourism will put their effort into showcasing those showing growth like the last three.

“We must look at what are the new products and experiences that we can start packaging so that South Africa presents a variety of products that people are looking for.”

SA Tourism’s plan of action is to “create desire through giving the traveler a vivid sense of the real South Africa before they visit” and “build confidence through giving access to real information that excites people about the country and dispels concerns”. For the US – and Canada – they want to market South Africa as an “ultimate adventure destination”.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: [1], [2]. Image sources: Nicolas Jehly [1], [2].

Tracking Your South African Visa Application in 2019

VFS is an acronym that stands for Visa Facilitation Services. There are a number of companies to facilitate this process such as an Indian company known as VFS Global, which also handles other passport issues. Established in 2001, this private company is now, as the name suggests, in most parts of the world. So, what is the procedure for VFS tracking in South Africa?

VFS South Africa

In line with the changing South African immigration regulations, the Department of Home Affairs contracted the services of VFS Global, an external organization, in opening of Visa Application Centers across the country. These centers are located in Bloemfontein, Durban, Cape Town, Johannesburg, George, Nelspruit, Kimberly, Port Elizabeth, Mangaung, Pretoria, and Rustenburg. This move eradicated the need for applicants to submit visa applications to the Department of Home Affairs regional offices but instead encourages physically handing in of biometric data and applications at the VFS centers. Applying for South Africa Temporary Residence Visa or Permanent Residence permit? Here is how you can track your application after following the application procedure.

VFS tracking South Africa

Now, you have prepared your application, correctly followed the application steps, and after submission, you can track the progress of the process. Here are the simple steps for VFS South Africa tracking 2019.

  1. Visit VFS Global South Africa website.
  2. Click on the “click here” button and then enter the required reference number.
  3. You will be redirected to the page where you will be required to enter the tracking or AURN number and your last name.
  4. After feeding these details, click on submit and you will get information on your application’s progress.

Depending on the outcome of the application, you can collect the decision yourself, or send a representative to the Visa Facilitation Centre with the required details to collect the decision.

How long does it take to get a visa in South Africa?

Depending on the category of visa application, Temporary Residence Permit applicants can wait for a minimum of 8-10 weeks for the process to be carried out. On the other hand, Permanent Residence Permit applicants have to wait for 8-10 months. Since each application is evaluated individually, processing time varies. So, note that South Africa’s Department of Home Affairs does not give a specific length of time to process visa applications. How long does it take to get a visa to go to South Africa? For those in other countries, there is no standard period but it all depends on the visa policies in your country.

Visa costs in South Africa

Different countries have different regulations as well as varying payment systems and rates. In South Africa, visa payments are done online. If you have all the supporting documents, fill the online application form and pay the mandatory pre-pay minimum amount of R1,350 to secure and schedule your appointment online. This pre-payment can be made:

  • Online through the secure online portal using a debit or credit card
  • At Standard Bank, you will be required to download and then complete the online generated bank receipt and then deposit the cash into the nearest Standard Bank or make an EFT payment through a secure online portal.

It is important to note that after paying the amount, you can visit your online application form after three business days to schedule your appointment. For the Financially Independent Permanent Residence applicants, you will be required to pay R120,000, which should be deposited into the account of the Department of Home Affairs prior to the issuance of the permit, and the proof of payment forwarded for attention to the relevant email addresses.

What are the requirements for South Africa visa?

For those outside South Africa, the requirements for each country vary but there are some general things that you must have. These things include:

  1. A valid passport that has at least three clear pages. It has to have a validity of at least one month when you leave South Africa.
  2. A photocopy of the bio-data page of the passport and a professional passport size photograph.
  3. Self-employed people need to have letters from their business, certificates of ownership, and registration of the business. Retired people must present proof of retirement.
  4. A completed application form.
  5. A copy of a yellow fever certificate.
  6. A return ticket that can be verified or something similar.
  7. If you are going to work, you need a signed proof of employment from the employer.
  8. A non-refundable fee that you will be informed of during the application. The fee does not include the VFS service fee.

Above are the mandatory requirements. Anything else aside from this will be unique to the type of visa you want. For those in South Africa, to get the temporary or permanent residence permit, here are the steps to follow:

  1. Complete the appropriate online form and then pay the required pre-pay fee to schedule an appointment. Have all the documents required for the application.
  2. Go with your printed online application form, appointment letter, proof of payment, valid passport or travel papers and the supporting documents to the Visa Facilitation Centre on the day of the appointment.
  3. At the centre, collect a token and wait for your turn. After the application process, you will be given an acknowledgement receipt which you should keep safe as it will be needed for you to be given the decision later on.

Note that you will have to register your photograph and fingerprints at the Visa Facilitation Centre, and select whether you will personally collect the decision or send a representative.

The Hout Bay neighborhood in Cape Town, South Africa. SA is a popular destination for international tourists and for those looking to start a new life in a diverse country, with an economy full of promise, a rich history, and great weather for outdoor activities.

Can you travel to South Africa without a visa?

This depends on the passport you have. For example, people with US passports are free to visit South Africa without a visa if they are visiting for a period of less than 90 days. Other countries that have a similar privilege to the US include the UK, Norway, Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany, and many more. Regardless of the type of visa, VFS tracking in South Africa should be able to assist you anytime.

And there you have it. You now hopefully have a deeper understanding of VFS tracking in South Africa, as well as of the related costs and visa application processes. Hopefully your application is a success.

For more information straight from the VFS South Africa website, click here.

 

For information as to how Relocation Africa can help you with your Mobility, Immigration, Research, Remuneration, and Expat Tax needs, email marketing@relocationafrica.com, or call us on +27 21 763 4240.

Sources: Julie Kwach via Briefly [1], [2]. Image sources: [1], [2], Sofia M [3].