The South African Minister for Tourism, Ms Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane has indicated that South Africa was committed to ensuring the full implementation of the visa waiver arrangements with Ghana to enhance travels between the two countries.
South Africa announced a free entry visa for Ghanaians and citizens of seven other countries in July, 2019 but the waiver is yet to be implemented after almost four months.
Ms Kubayi-Ngubane was optimistic the visa free entry regime would increase trade, investment and tourism opportunities for the two countries.
Admitting that the implementation of the visa waiver had delayed, Ms Kubayi-Ngubane said efforts were being made to ensure it was operational before the end of the year.
Ms Kubayi-Ngubane who was on a two-day visit to Ghana made the call during an engagement with some Ghanaian and South African trade and travel partners and media practitioners in Accra.
The meeting was organised by the South African Tourism Ministry in collaboration with the South African High Commission in Ghana.
Ms Kubayi-Ngubane said officials of the South African Home Affairs Office were scheduled to meet officials of Ghana’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, in Accra, to finalise talks on the implementation of the visa waiver arrangement aimed at enhancing easy travel between the two countries.
The meeting is expected to ensure that the two teams sign the final agreement that would make the visa waiver operational.
She called on African nationals to tour the continent and discover the rich history, heritage, and traditions of the region.
She said the continent had mixed cultures and abounded in diversity in terms of its people, history and landscape which needed to be experienced by its people.
“I know a number of South Africans, especially gospel musicians who come to Ghana regularly and want free movement. Africans must visit and tour the African continent. We should be able to visit each other. You are likely to find an African brother who has been to Europe and Asia than to Africa”, She said.
She announced that the South African Ministry of Tourism was collaborating with the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture in Ghana to train women in the tourism industry in Ghana and share experiences for the growth of the industry in the two countries.
“We all need to be prosperous not just one nation on the continent must rise alone but we all need to rise together by holding hands and helping each other.”
Abide by the laws
For her part, the High Commissioner of South Africa to Ghana, Ms Lulu Xhingwana said the other seven countries who were named along Ghana for the visa waivers by the South African Home Affairs Minister had all started implementing the free visa entry since November 1, 2019.
Apart from Ghana, the other countries benefiting from the visa waiver are Cuba, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, São Tomé and Principe.
Setting the records straight on some speculations in the media about only diplomatic and service passport holders being beneficiaries of the visa waivers excluding ordinary passport holders, she said there was no truth in the rumours.
“We already have a visa waiver in place for diplomatic and service passport holders. The waiver we are talking about is for ordinary passports”, she said.
She cautioned that the visa waiver could not be replaced with work or study permits.
“The free visa is for visits for 90 days. You can renew it at the end of the 90 days. It is a visa to visit not to work or study. If you want to study or work in South Africa you will have to apply for a permit that will enable you to do so.”
Ms Xhingwana urged visitors to abide by the laws and not to flout the free entry visa by living beyond the 90 days or engage in unapproved activities.
She cautioned that visitors who break the law would be “V-listed” and “when that happens it will affect your chances of entry into South Africa again.”
The President of Tour Operators Union of Ghana (TOUGHA), Mr Kwesi Eyison said the scheduled visit by the President of South Africa, Mr Matamela Cyril Ramaphosa to Ghana early December, 2019 would strengthen the bilateral relationship between the two countries and boost tourism.
He commended South Africa for its commitment to assist and support the growth of Ghana’s tourism industry, saying “we need a lot of capacity to grow our tourism industry and we have a lot to learn from South Africa.”
Credit : Graphiconline