|The Department of Home Affairs (DHA) on Tuesday introduced an events visa, for visitors from other African nations, planning to visit South Africa for the Confederations Cup as well as the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
The event visa was specifically introduced for those African countries that were not visa exempt.
DHA programme manager for 2010, Morne Fourie, said that some of the requirements for a regular visa had been relaxed for the events visa, but that applicants would have to provide proof of purchase of a 2010 ticket. If no such proof could be provided, the applicant would have to apply for a regular visa.
However, other requirements relating to regular visas, such as health regulations, would remain in place for the events visa. â€œWe will not endanger our countryâ€™s health and wellness by relaxing those terms. You also still need a proof of return before an events visa is granted.â€
The events visa would be piloted during the Confederations Cup, and as Egypt was the only other African qualifying team for the event, the events visa would be applicable to all Egyptian visitors entering South Africa.
â€œThis visa is South Africaâ€™s way of saying to Africa that we are making special preparations for you to come to our country. Because this is Africaâ€™s World Cup,â€ Fourie said.
The events visa was one of nine focus areas on the DHAâ€™s action plan, aimed at offering efficient immigration services during the FIFA event.
Another focus area was the advance passenger information concept, which would see information on passengers travelling being received before passengers arrive in South Africa. This would enable DHA to preclear passengers, and would facilitate the entry and exit of passengers through the countryâ€™s borders. An integration of airline check-in data would be used to convey travel information.
Another initiative to preclear passengers was to place South African officials in hubs in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Kenya, Dubai, and India. Passengers would then be cleared and accepted onto South African soil before they boarded their aeroplane.
However, having arrived in South Africa, visitors would still need to go through customs. Fourie noted that customs was gearing up to increase its capacity, as the amount of visitors coming directly off the planes would increase
The Minister of Home Affairs, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, stated that with regard to security, the DHA would be deploying immigration officials from South Africa to work with foreign governments and airline personnel to identify irregular migration patterns during the course of the event. â€œWe are also working in conjunction with our foreign counterparts to prevent undesirable people from coming to our country, who may be a threat to our security.â€
She added that the DHA was also streamlining steps and queues for passengers, and noted that queue management processes and systems were being developed in conjunction with the Airports Company South Africa and other managing agents, at various ports of entry.
The DHA would also track visitor exit for international visitors to gauge visa overstays. â€œSpecific processes and systems enhancements are being applied to improve the tracking of visitors to our country,â€ Mapisa-Nqakula added.
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was expected to draw between 450 000 and 500 000 visitors, the DHA said. Fourie noted that despite the economic crunch currently engulfing the world, the DHA was confident that the venue would still attract large numbers of visitors.
â€œEveryone has confidence in the fact that we will have full stadiums, we will sell the tickets, people will arrive. People will acclimatise between now and 2010, and there is still time to adapt your budget and your life style to still facilitate the expenditure on passion items, such as football.â€
PUBLICATION: Engineering News