The introduction of e-visas will serve not only to grow tourism volumes but will also create new job opportunities, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said on Sunday.
“There are opportunities to accelerate the creation of regional visa schemes. This would allow our international visitors and intra-African travellers to move more freely and efficiently, to the benefit of our continent,” said the minister, who was speaking at the opening ceremony of the Routes Africa Conference in the Seychelles on Sunday.
He said the continent has a long way to go to capitalise on its unique attractions and cultural diversity but that visa barriers still need to be overcome. “The bureaucracy and costs involved in applying for and issuing visas are a major impediment to foreigners wishing to visit our shores, and to our own people who travel on our continent,” he said.
Another barrier he said was old air connectivity models. “They inhibit growth and only serve to keep our destinations dependent on air arrivals from economically hard-pressed traditional source markets. We need a long-term plan to create an intra-continental air transport architecture that facilitates intra-African travel and trade, including tourism.”
He said new-model lower cost airlines that could cater for market segments that are currently underserved are needed on the continent.
The minister said he believed that the African continent is on the verge of an unprecedented tourism boom over the next two decades. “In a mere three years from now, there will be just over 50 African cities with populations exceeding three million,” he said