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South Africa to offer an e-visa facility for Indian tourists

South Africa will now offer an e-visa facility for Indian tourists. South Africa’s Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, on Thursday, said that the online visa applications portal will be rolled out in India on a pilot basis from next week.

South Africa is also looking to invite Indian or other carriers to start direct flights between Mumbai and South Africa as there are no direct flights between the two nations currently. The South African Transport Ministry is willing to offer a licence to any carrier that is willing to start a direct flight.

Speaking to BusinessLine, Ngubane said that the preferred route will be Mumbai-Durban. She said, “While we haven’t had firm conversations with any airline yet, any airline that is willing to start a flight between India and SA will be a licence within two weeks.”

Currently, online visa applications were being processed in Kenya. “We are improving our process as and when we get the feedback. We aim to launch the service in India next week and China next month. We are looking at a full implementation on e-visa services by April 2020.” she said.

“We are also looking at utilising database of the US and Schengen visa verification to make the process quicker. The turnaround time of the visa application will be five days,” she added.

After Nigeria, South Africa processes the most number of visa requests from Mumbai. On the sidelines of the event on Thursday, a South African ministry official said that “the Mumbai office processes approximately 3,000 visa applications each month.”

‘Multifaceted destination’

The Tourism Minister said that they were looking at easing the visa processes for its Indian tourists by offering multiple-entry visas and were in constant communication with the Ministry of Home Affairs of South Africa to comply with this.

As of October 2019, over 81,316 Indians travelled to South Africa registering a 30 per cent increase on a year-on-year basis. Currently, South Africa hosts over 10.4 million tourists every year, and according to Ngubane, the nation aims to see an inflow of 21 million tourists on a yearly basis.

According to her, the growth could go up to 50 per cent and will be driven through sports, and MICE tourism.

To boost tourism, the South Africa tourism board had held a roadshow in India to promote the South Africa for film tourism, MICE events, corporates and tour operators.

Speaking to BusinessLine, the Tourism Minister said, “We want to promote South Africa as a multifaceted destination. We met production houses such as Red Chillies, Excel, Carbon Black to discuss the film or web series shooting in South Africa.”