Cape Town’s “digital nomad” visa plan

The Western Cape provincial government wants the national government to introduce a “remote working visa” aimed at international digital nomads, but they are struggling to convince the Department of Home Affairs.

Cape Town is perfectly positioned to take advantage of people who live in and work remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was voted the best city in the world for many years running in the Telegraph Travel Awards which illustrates its appeal to international travellers.

With good Internet infrastructure, quality restaurants, and an idyllic setting, Cape Town is an attractive location for digital nomads.

It wants to follow in the footsteps of Dubai which launched a remote-work programme last year.

This programme allows international professionals to live in the Emirates while continuing to serve their employers in their home country.

The remote-work visa gives applicants access to all services in Dubai, including telecoms and schooling.

The Western Cape provincial government wants to do the same for Cape Town through a South African remote-work visa.

The city’s mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos, said the pandemic created a great opportunity to take work on a holiday.

“Cape Town has everything it takes to be the best remote working location in the world. We just need to make it easier for people to travel to South Africa,” said Vos.

Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos.
Cape Town’s mayoral committee member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management, James Vos.

To make it even more attractive to travellers, Western Cape tourism company Wesgro has partnered with Airbnb to promote the province as an ideal location for digital nomads.

The partnership includes offering people up to 50% off stays longer than 28 days through Airbnb.

“Digital nomads will now be able to take advantage of the Western Cape’s tech- and entrepreneur-friendly economy at an affordable price,” said the DA’s provincial spokesperson for Finance, Economic Development, and Tourism, Deidré Baartman.

There is, however, a snag – the national government.

The Western Cape government has tried to engage with President Cyril Ramaphosa and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi, but their request has not been successful.

Cape Town is, however, not giving up. The Cape Town city council continues to put pressure on the national government to make this happen.

It also wants the application process for the remote working visa to move online.

Vos told Rapport it is high time that South Africa implements its electronic visa (e-visa) system to accommodate international travellers.

South Africa has already piloted the new e-visa system, but the pandemic has delayed the implementation of this system.

Now read: South Africa’s new e-Visa system is live – Everything you need to know

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Cape Town’s “digital nomad” visa plan