African countries to ease visa application process to attract more visitors – De Lille

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille welcoming tourists from all over the world during the tourism Indaba opening ceremony at the Durban ICC. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille welcoming tourists from all over the world during the tourism Indaba opening ceremony at the Durban ICC. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

Published May 10, 2023


Durban — Countries in Africa should ease visa application requirements with the aim of boosting the African continent’s tourism and travel sector and attracting more tourists.

This was according to Tourism Minister Patricia de Lille during the official opening of Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023 (ATI) at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli Convention Centre on Tuesday.

De Lille said the visa regime was the main challenge holding back the tourism sector and it must be harmonised across the African continent to make it easier for visitors to travel from country to country.

The visa problem applied not only in South Africa but also to other African countries, she said.

“We are going to work together to address the (visa) issue and we must simplify the e-visa application process and also reduce the costs of visas to make Africa more attractive and bring in more international visitors.”

De Lille said tourism ministers from other African countries had decided to prioritise the visa regime.

“South Africa has visa waivers for several African countries for a specified period of up to 90 days and it includes Tanzania, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Mauritius, Botswana and many more. We have just added 20 countries to the list.”

Lunga Ntuli, the owner of LV watches, helps his Spanish client Gonzalo Sanchez put on a bead watch that he created. Lunga also asked Gonzalo to refer his friends and family from Spain to buy his watches on their online store. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency(ANA)

She said another critical area that was debated was airlift capacity.

“On the global stage, Africa is the strongest performer currently with international air connectivity in Africa. However, this growth has been uneven, with some African regions and countries having better airlift connectivity than others. I’m looking forward to working with various partners in reducing the high cost of air travel in Africa as we know that this deters visitors and limits tourism growth,” said De Lille.

She said despite some challenges, there were some positive developments in the African aviation sector. Some African airlines were expanding their fleets and increasing their routes to meet the growing demand for air travel.

“The AU has also launched the Single African Air Transport Market, which aims to liberalise air transport on the continent and promote greater competition and connectivity,” said De Lille.

She said she was confident that this year’s ATI would serve as a platform for building new relationships, sharing knowledge, and driving the growth and success of the African tourism sector.

Federation Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) chairperson Brett Tungay said the visa application process had been a problem for a long time.

“Tourists or visitors have been complaining about visa costs and the complicated application process. Many of them end up avoiding visiting the country and choose to visit countries where a visa is not needed,” said Tungay.

He said he believed that easing the application process and costs would attract more visitors.

KZN Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube delivering her speech during the Tourism Indaba opening ceremony at the Durban ICC. Picture: Tumi Pakkies/African News Agency (ANA)

KwaZulu-Natal Premier Nomusa Dube-Ncube said the ATI event was of major significance as it shone the spotlight of the world on the KZN province and would give a much-needed boost to the province’s gross domestic product.

“Tourism is one of the foremost sectors we have identified as part of our Economic Recovery and Reconstruction Plan, and this gathering marks a critical tipping point in our recovery as we leave behind us all legacies of the damaging floods,” Dube-Ncube said.

She said figures for the festive season indicated that the recovery of the province’s tourism sector was well on its way, with a return of R2.5 billion during the December period.

Dube-Ncube said the province had welcomed more than 500 000 domestic tourists and more than 51 000 international tourists.

She said that, according to Tourism KwaZulu-Natal, the occupancy rate from December 26, 2022, to January 1, 2023, reached an average of 81% across the province.

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