South African Government has said it must align its efforts in critical areas such as expanding air connectivity and tourist friendly travel facilitations. South African Consul-General in Nigeria, Amb. Mokgethi Monaisa made this known during his opening remarks at the South Africa Tourism/ West Africa Trade Workshop held recently in Lagos. Speaking at the workshop, Amb. Monaisa said “We must align our work in critical areas such as expanding air connectivity and tourist friendly travel facilitation”.
The envoy informed that the South African Consulate has issued 133, 114 visas to Nigerians who intended to travel to the country between January 2013 and June 2015. According to the envoy, visas issued to Nigerians visiting South Africa in 2013 amounts to 59657; 48289 in 2014 and 25168 in 2015 alone. So far, successful visa applicants in the country have spent over N2 billion on the procurement of the South African visas in three years.
The sum accrued from the successful issuance of visas to 133,114 applicants between January 2013 and June 2015. The N21,000 fee per visa applicant, comprises N8,600 visa fees which go directly to the South Africa embassy and N12,000 service charges that go to VSF, the handling company. Amb. Monaisa however, said that “South Africa’s bilateral relations with Nigeria continue to strengthen. A bi-national commission of cooperation between the two countries was established to lay a firm foundation for co-operation and partnership within the broader objectives of the African Renaissance, and have since then grown from strength to strength”.
He said that South Africa and surely Nigeria saw a mixed performance across key source markets, adding that even in the face of Ebola challenges, tourism grew substantially in 2014. He pointed out that the INDABA 2015 hosted in Durban, South Africa recorded success.
“A few months ago South Africa hosted INDABA 2015 in Durban. With more than 1000 exhibitors, including 300 exhibitors from 20 African countries, and about 2000 buyers from the world’s tourism source markets, INDABA 2015 was a resounding success. We hope to call for proposals for a potential partner with a global reach to expand INDABA even further”. He said that selling South African products to the world is extremely important, but equally important is that the product itself has to be continuously enhanced.
He also said that tourism in South Africa contributed no less than 9.4% to GDP in 2014, and more importantly, one in every ten jobs is supported by tourism. “However, tourism growth should not only be measured by the numbers of domestic tourists or international arrivals.
Tourism growth has to be environmentally and socially sustainable. And it has to be inclusive growth. To achieve this, we must bring more marginalized communities into the tourism mainstream”, Monaisa hinted. Speaking further at the workshop, Regional Director for Africa, South African Tourism, Evelyn Mahlaba,, noted that the bulk of the successful visa applicants were visitors from the age category of between 25 years to late 30s.
Also, about 40 percent of the applicants visited for leisure while 60 percent came for business. Mahlaba observed that over 60,000 Nigerian arrivals to South Africa in 2014 (a figure representing 9 percent of Nigeria’s total outbound tours), were attracted by the country’s value for money tailor-made tour packages, welldeveloped tourism facilities, quality accommodations in its 5,253 graded hotels and resorts, efficient transport systems, beautiful landscape and exuberant culture among others.