The South African tourism department has announced the launch of an electronic visa application in Mandarin for Chinese citizens in a bid to boost the number of tourist arrivals in South Africa from China.
The South Africa eVisa for Chinese citizens is due to be launched as a pilot scheme in March 2020, to make it easier for the 100,000 yearly visitors from China to South Africa to obtain a travel document through a simple online application.
The decision to implement the online application for Chinese citizens came after South Africa Tourism Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane visited Beijing in 2019. During the trip, Kubayi-Ngubane signed an agreement with Tencent, a Chinese multinational which specializes in internet services and products, to help set up the online visa system.
“It’s a great win for South Africa”, said Bradley Brouwer, head of global trade at South African Tourism, adding that the South Africa government is doing everything possible to make Chinese citizens feel welcome in the country in order to significantly boost tourist trade.
The South Africa eVisa Pilot Scheme
Before planning a trip to the country, all foreign citizens should check visa requirements for South Africa to see if they require a travel document for the country, either an eVisa or an embassy visa.
Although the Mandarin application for Chinese citizens will be available in March, the South Africa eVisa pilot scheme is currently open to citizens of Kenya and India.
The first phase of the eVisa trial scheme was launched in late 2019 for citizens of New Zealand, during which improvements were made before the pilot scheme was opened up to Kenyan and Indian citizens.
The trial period for the eVisa, for citizens of India, Kenya, and later China, is expected to continue until April 1st, 2020, to allow any glitches in the technology to be ironed out. It is expected that the South Africa eVisa will be fully implemented after this date and the government will begin to make the online application available to other nationalities.
At the moment, Kenyan and Indian citizens who obtain an eVisa through the trial system are able to use the travel document to enter South Africa at 2 airports in the country, Lanseria and Ortia airports.
However, once fully implemented, it is expected that eligible travelers will be able to use the eVisa to gain entry to South Africa at a number of additional ports of entry.
The South African eVisa Application Process
At the moment, foreign citizens who require a visa to visit South Africa are required to apply for a travel document from the nearest South African embassy or consulate.
Once fully implemented, the eVisa for South Africa will allow eligible foreign citizens to obtain a travel document exclusively online, eliminating the need to a apply for a visa from a diplomatic office in person.
Eligible applicants will be able to complete a simple online form with basic personal and passport information and answer a few security-related questions to receive an approved eVisa electronically linked to the traveler’s passport.
Depending on the nationality of the applicant and the purpose of the intended stay, a South African eVisa may be granted as either a single or multiple entry visa and for a variety of periods of validity.