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E-Visas will help South Africa grow, says Van Schalkwyk – Business Leaders

August 16, 2012 No Comments »

South African Tourism Minister Mathinus Van Schalkwyk is a man on a mission.   Throughout 2012, Van Schalkwyk has been jetting around the world promoting South African tourism to various countries, most prominently the United States.

 The influx of new visitors which Van Schalkwyk hopes to attract to the country (and continent) with his travel innovations will be of great significance to business in the region. 

E-Visas

One of the Tourism Minister’s most talked about introductions is that of E-Visas.  Put simply, the E-Visas scheme will allow for a tremendous easing up of entry regulations to South Africa for certain visitors, something which at the moment is preventing more visitors and growth in the region. 

E-Visas are currently used by few countries, but their proponents include the US, Australia and India, who all use the scheme to allow business travellers and foreign investors to gain quick, easy access to the country, as well as significantly cutting the government tax put onto air travel to South Africa; something Van Schalkwyk believes is hindering South African business opportunities and putting off investors:

“I think it’s safe to say the lack of transparency regarding government prices, infrastructure issues and disproportionate taxes are restricting the opportunities in the region”, said the Tourism Minister earlier this year. 

The South African government is particularly excited about the economic benefit which could potentially be reaped by the encouragement of business visitors: “There will be over 200 conferences in South Africa over the next five years”, Van Schalkwyk told guests at ‘Meetings Africa 2012’, “Those 200 conferences will translate into 300,000 delegates, and R1.6 billion.”

The similar American programme, named the ‘E2 Visa scheme’ is instantly available and has an indefinite timeframe, and is targeted at those who wish to purchase a small business in the US, real estate investors and people who want to retire in America. 

The benefits for accelerated regional visas is estimated to be an annual  5 percent increase in visitors to the African continent by 2030, culminating in 150 million visitors per annum by 2030 (up from 68 million in 2010).

Plans to introduce the scheme are well under way, with The Routes Africa conference this week, which brings together 150 delegates from the African aviation industry, proving a fitting pedestal for Van Schalkwyk to speak further about the benefits of the scheme to aviation, tourism, travel, and African business as a whole. 

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