South Africa’s Minister of Tourism, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, on Thursday appealed to Nigerians to continue to visit the country as the rainbow nation remained open for visitors from across the globe.
Kubayi-Ngubane made the call during an engagement session with Nigerian tourism stakeholders in Lagos against the backdrop of the recent xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
She said that there was a great need to advance bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Africa in the creative industry to achieve remarkable success for the two nations and the African continent.
The minister said South Africa regretted the situation, acknowledging that such attacks had happened in the past and the authorities had taken steps to ensure it was not repeated.
“I want you all to know that South Africa is open for visitors from Nigeria and other parts of the world as against insinuations by many that the country is repelling visitors.
“Friendship between South Africa and Nigeria precedes South Africa’s democracy. We didn’t achieve our democracy on our own; we stood on the shoulders of many African nations who fought with us to achieve the democracy we enjoy today.
“To ensure this does not reoccur, the President has appointed a former President of Tanzania and Mozambique as part of the people to find lasting solutions to the problem,” she said.
Kubayi-Ngubane, while acknowledging the visa procurement challenges faced by applicants, said that the country was working on establishing an Electronic Visa application system to be ready for use within the first quarter of 2020.
She said this would fast track the duration for visa procurement.
“We are piloting an E-visa application system to be rolled out early 2020, this means anyone who needs a visa to come to South Africa will be able to do that within the comfort of their homes to apply online.
“If the documents are vetted and certified correct within few days an applicant will get response for visa approval,” she said.
The minister said another problem confronting the country was the presentation of fraudulent documents for visa procurement which delayed the process as huge number of people engaged in this.
She said that South Africa visa fee has not been increased since 2016 which was deliberate to ensure affordability for those that want to visit the country.
Mr Darkey Africa, South Africa’s Consul General in Lagos, said that the country was committed to reuniting the two countries through proper exploration of the tourism industry.
He said the countries must be united in purpose to achieve remarkable growth.
“We want to see movies where Nigerians and South Africans will collaborate to produce, speaking in their unique and distinct accents to tell the world that we have greater things for the future of the two countries and Africa.
“We have enjoyed one another’s friendship for long, we have had cases of countless inter-marriages. This should continue as we explore more together.
“So, there is nothing to be scared of visiting South Africa. It is open for all,” he said.