According to News24, South Africa’s Home Affairs department will not relax onerous new immigration rules that require in-person biometric data collection for tourist visas, but will fast-track visa centres and biometric-data capturing systems to reduce upheaval.
Minister of Home Affairs Malusi Gigaba said spending $500,000 on installing biometric systems at all of South Africa’s international points of entry would eventually result in transit visas being unnecessary.
“That will mean that instead of us issuing people with transit visas, when those biometric systems are operating properly, we will then obtain biometric details and be able to check those against their travelling schedule,” he said.
The new requirement for in-person biometric data collection when applying for a visa to South Africa has met with concern from the tourism sector.
Gigaba and Minister of Tourism Derek Hanekom have agreed to co-operate to increase the number of visa application centres abroad, particularly in India and China, which are rapidly growing sources of tourism revenue.
The number of visitors from China has grown by 235% in the past five years, and those from India by almost 80%, according to Hanekom.
In India, government plans to open up to another 10 centres, and the Department of Tourism will indicate where these need to be located.
The new immigration rules came into effect on the 26th of May.