South Africa to simplify visa regime for Russian travelers

Tourists to enter South Africa without visas for no longer than 90 days starting this coming February.

The South African government seeks to streamline visa regulations for Russian travelers whose number has been on the rise in recent years, South African Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane told TASS on Tuesday.

"Russia is a BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) member. The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) last year introduced 10-year visas for senior Russian business people. We shall also encourage Russian tourist arrivals," she said.

Nkoana-Mashabane did not clarify how the entry rules could change but last year the DHA promised to cancel visas for travelers from Russia and China. A well-informed diplomatic source told TASS that the tourists might be allowed to enter South Africa without visas for no longer than 90 days starting this coming February.

According to the South African Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), 15,000 Russian tourists visited South Africa in 2015 compared to 10,400 the year before. South Africa saw a 14.8% rise in the total number of tourists this year while the profit from their stay in the country amounted to 39.3 bln rands ($2.8 billion).

The number of foreign tourists in South Africa demonstrated a declining trend after the country had introduced stricter immigration rules in 2014 in a bid to keep illegal migrants out of the country. The domestic tourist industry estimated the annual damage at $540 million. However, later the Department of Home Affairs started simplifying the rules in a bid to strike a "balance between national security and the country’s economic interests."

First published by TASS.

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