Department of Home Affairs minister, Aaron Motsoaledi has granted visa-free status to nationals from four new countries.
“As from today, 15 August 2019, travellers 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,” Motsoaledi said.
“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,” he said.
Motsoaledi said his department would implement visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba and Principe and Sao Tome after negotiations with these countries have been concluded.
Home Affairs is scheduled to complete these negotiations by the end of August 2019 and the implementation will follow soon thereafter, he said.
“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.”
In July, a spokesperson told BusinessTech that the Department of Home Affairs will also enter into talks with their counterparts in a number of countries to allow visa-free access for South African travellers.
While countries such as Qatar and Ghana already have visa-free or visa on arrival agreements with South Africa, it would be considered a serious boon if South Africans could travel visa-free to countries such as the UAE and New Zealand.
Department spokesperson Siya Qoza said that Home Affairs was currently in talks with these countries on two main issues.
“We have entered negotiations with these countries with the first priority being an implementation date for visa-free access to South Africa.
“Once this has been confirmed, our second priority is reciprocity.”
Qoza said that initial conversations held with these countries have been positive, with talks expected to be concluded by September.
He added that Home Affairs may expand these negotiations to other countries.
“We are consistently looking at which countries would be of a trade and tourism benefit to South Africa,” he said.