Nearly a year has gone by since South Africa announced that it would be introducing a visa requirement for New Zealand nationals, but tourists still face very lengthy waiting periods for visas to issued, which is having a direct impact on tourist interest in the destination.
This is according to Brent Thomas, Commercial Director of New Zealand-based House of Travel, who says the wait can be anywhere from two to four weeks. “All visas are sent directly to travellers, so they need to ensure they check the visa issued covers the exact travel dates as very often they are incorrect.”
Thomas adds that with just two visa centres located in Auckland and Wellington, there is always going to be a backlog of New Zealand travellers applying to visit South Africa. “Anyone outside of these areas needs to travel to either city to submit their application in person, which is a timely and costly commitment, especially for those located in the South Island or rurally,” he says.
Thomas says the actual visa submission process at the centres is relatively straightforward, but the paperwork required to apply is significant and includes three months’ worth of daily personal bank statements.
“There has absolutely been an impact on interest levels and passenger numbers to South Africa due to the lengthy and expensive visa process. There are a high number of South Africans living in New Zealand whose children may have to apply, making it difficult to visit friends and family,” says Thomas. “This is extremely disappointment as this destination has so much to offer. It would be far more convenient for the majority of Kiwis to apply online for their visasa and in return, this may help being these numbers back up,” he concludes.