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South Africa Expects Robust Tourism Growth in 2016 after Adjusting Visa Rules - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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Tourism in South Africa is anticipating strong growth in 2016 after lifting some strict new visa rules that reduced the number of arrivals in the previous year, Minister Derek Hanekom said on Tuesday.

South Africa last year loosened some of the visa rules it introduced in October 2014, dropping a requirement for visitors to apply for visas in person at South African embassies, following a backlash from tour operators and tourists.

“In January, over one million tourists arrived in South Africa, 15 percent more than in January last year,” Hanekom told parliament.

“February brought an incredible 18 percent increase,” Hanekom said, adding that while the Chinese market was showing signs of recovery, obtaining visas in India still took too long.

South Africa’s tourism sector is considered as one of the key drivers of employment and economic growth in Africa’s most industrialized economy.

Sandy white coastlines, rolling vineyards and attractions like Kruger National Park, Table Mountain and Robben Island, where anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela spent nearly two decades in jail, attract visitors from all over the world.

According to the National Treasury, tourism’s direct contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) was 103.6 billion rand ($7.15 billion) in 2013, about 2.9 percent of GDP, while directly employing 655,609 people or 4.4 percent of total employment.

“Tourism is recovering rapidly from last year’s decline. 2016 promises to be a year of strong growth for tourism in South Africa,” Hanekom said.

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat English

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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