South African Home Affairs Minister, Malusi Gigaba. Picture: TREVOR SAMSON on Business Day Live
TMG Digital on Business Day Live
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba says foreign arrivals to SA over the festive season rose 8% year on year‚ which he believes dispels concerns over the country’s tighter visa regime.
The top nationalities arriving in SA between December 1 2015 and January 7 2016 were from Lesotho‚ Zimbabwe‚ Mozambique‚ Swaziland and Botswana‚ followed by the UK‚ Germany‚ US and Namibia.
He said the data showed increases of 4.9% for travellers from Africa, 6.1% from Europe‚ 7.8% from North America‚ 15% from Asia‚ 2.5% from Australasia and 21% from the Middle East. They showed a decrease of 1% for arrivals from South America.
The total number of arrivals to SA this season was 2‚709‚874 individuals (2‚003‚509 foreigners and 706‚ 365 South African citizens). For 2014-15‚ it was 1‚872‚298 foreigners and 704‚066 citizens (2‚576‚364 in total)‚ he said.
Regarding departures‚ the number for foreigners was 1‚900‚199 individuals, and for citizens it was 780‚783. Total departures numbered 2‚680‚982.
"It is quite clear that the 2016 peak period had notable increases in traveller movement compared to 2014 and 2015," Mr Gigaba said.
"I trust that in sharing this information we will do much to clarify some recent reports related to SA’s amended visa rules and traveller volumes. I believe as a department‚ and a hospitable country‚ we did our best in facilitating smooth movement for citizens‚ tourists and other foreign nationals through our ports of entry‚ empowered by extra resources and capacity to rise to the challenge‚ including more staff‚ equipment‚ IT support and extended hours for processing travellers," he said.