DURBAN. In the days to Africa’s Travel Indaba fete in South Africa, a number of tour operators were denied visas, sparking an uproar on social media platforms.
However, in his remarks at Africa’s Travel Indaba at the ICC Durban on Saturday, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said his government was working towards reducing the enormous and often unnecessary bureaucratic red tape that tourists, who want to visit his country, face.
“If a tourist is held back by a lot of red tape, they immediately give up and go to another destination. This clearly requires that we should streamline our tourist visa regimes and as South Africa we are committed to working towards the African Union’s goal of a visa free travel dispensation and a single African air transport market,” Mr Ramaphosa said.
He added that his country was in the process of overhauling the visa dispensation and introducing world class e-visa system.
In his Facebook post, Uganda’s tour operator Amos Wekesa, the executive director of Great Lakes Safaris, condemned the continued denial of visas to Ugandans to travel to South Africa, irrespective of travel frequency.
South Africa’s tourism minister Derek Hanekom said:
“I met with a number of hosted buyers, sellers and media from more than 80 countries and asked them what would be a befitting welcome to our president and their message is recognition of tourism industry but from Nigeria to Ghana, from Kenya to Uganda to India and China, the sector has massive potential and to realise it, the visa dispensation must be overhauled.”
Indaba is the continent’s top annual travel and trade fair that attracts thousands of people and media from some 80 countries.
Uganda, represented by Uganda Tourism Board, won the gold certificate for an outstanding stand characterised with structural traits of eco-friendliness thanks to use of grass thatch, natural sticks and showcase of attractions such as gorillas, birds, wildlife and culture among others.
It was Uganda’s third gold win under the category of Southern African Development Community and Africa, having bagged the same award and recognition in 2015 and 2016, respectively.