President Ramaphosa received a lot of criticism for sharing his dreams for South Africa in his latest State of the Nation address, but it seems he is not alone when it comes to thinking big – Home Affairs are introducing e-visas and the first e-gates will be piloted in 2019!
E-visas are nothing new to the savvy international traveller (see the list of e-visa countries), but they are quite a step-up in a country where ill-considered visa regulations seriously damaged the important tourism industry. Other than ensuring tourists easier access to South Africa, the Department of Tourism says that e-visas will provide predictability for visitors, like students, who want to stay in the country for a longer duration. According to them, this new system will enable South Africa to double the numbers of international visitors.” (Read more)
While e-visas will ensure less administration at airports, the proposed e-gates with self-service for low-risk travellers would further enhance the travel experience and ensure better capacity when it comes to assessing high-risk categories.
Of course it is important that tourists feel safe in our country and that we have an excellent standard of service, but I believe while some of us sort the basics, some of us have to dream. There are different horses for different courses and we need both those who action our immediate struggles and those who dream and plan for the future.
While things are tough at grass roots level, it is understandable that big dreams get criticized. Of course it is hard to get excited about bullet trains and modern cities when you are hungry, when you are unemployed or when you fear for your safety. While I believe the President’s speech offered detail to go with the dreams, I am delighted about Home Affairs’ energy and vision.
Acclaimed for the excellence of its wine tourism offering, many restaurants and accommodation establishments in the Cape Winelands are seeing dwindling visitor numbers. Perhaps it’s still the roll-over effect of the drought, perhaps the economic pressure keeps locals from enjoying the finer things or perhaps tourists are scared away by South Africa’s crime statistics. I am thankful that our dams are at a better level and I am very concerned about the craziness that is crime, but we need to dream about a better future and I, for one, think it is okay if those dreams are a bit extravagant.