Tourism: South Africa to ease travel procedures for Indians
Indian travellers to South Africa have spent 20% more than they did last year, till just mid-2018, according to South African Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom.
Mr. Hanekom, on his fourth visit to India, engaged with key travel and media representatives with the aim of strenghthening tourism ties between the two countries, on Wednesday. “Cordial relations between South Africa and India go way back in time, significantly owing to India’s support to the anti-apartheid movement,” he said.
The minister said the Indians’ average length of stay went up by 7.7% and total bed nights by 4%. India being one of the top sources of tourism for South Africa, Mr. Hanekom mentioned his country’s dedication to improve ‘destination marketing support’ here.
On easing visa applications and introducing direct flights between the two countries, Maropene Ramokgopa, Consul General, South Africa, said, “The Consulate of South Africa will work closely with South African Tourism to accredit select travel agents and tour operators to allow fast-tracking of visa applications from preferred partners.
The efforts would seek to further reduce the time for visa issuance, which is currently between five and seven days from the time of application, while enabling faster turnaround times during peak seasons.”
On direct flights, Mr. Hanekom said, “Serious discussions are on about the resumption of the direct route.” He said his country had a huge Indian population of 1.3 million.
In the context of tourism in South Africa, the CEO of South African Tourism, Sisa Ntshona, said South Africa’s identity primarily has to do with mines and manufacturing. Over the past few years, the government has strategically looked at how to diversify the economy and start including tourism as a big player, “and that’s when we got a lot of momentum,” he said. In 2016, there were 1.1 billion arrivals globally. “With the limited resources given to us, we looked at the most optimum countries to invest in, and India came out on top,” he said.
The duration of stay of an Indian traveller to South Africa is 17 to 25 days, and the age group is 18 to 35 years. The CEO also shared about their nation being a meetings, incentives, conferences and events (MICE) destination, and 25% of Indian travellers go to South Africa for business, conferences, and exhibitions. “Some of the investments we’ll be making as a tourism body will be around technology,” he said.
The dignitaries also shared some issues that are a hindrance to tourism, like the water crisis in South Africa, but claimed their dams were now full and except for a few isolated security issues, the major tourist destinations were extremely secure.