South Africa’s thorny visa regulations came under the spotlight at the AGM of the Cape region of the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (FEDHASA) at the Westin Hotel last week.
Tourism minister Derek Hanekom reaffirmed the need for the cabinet’s decision to be implemented to ensure ease of access for international visitors, in a bid to grow tourism numbers in the country.
“We need to make it easier for people to visit South Africa. All countries in the world that are experiencing growth in tourism have modernised their visa system. Many countries now have e-visas, online visa applications, or have reduced the stringent requirements to obtain visas,” said Mr Hanekom.
He was optimistic that by the end of July there would be visible progress.
In his keynote address, Mr Hanekom covered several key topics fundamental to the tourism sector in the province and the country, including the drought in Cape Town, the need to market South Africa well abroad and the immense economic growth potential this industry brings to the country.
He also reiterated the value of collective partnerships. The tourism industry in the Western Cape is a key economic driver in the province, supporting some 300 000 jobs, while being a key source of revenue.
The hospitality industry alone contributes around R40 billion to the Western Cape’s economy every year.
Fedhasa Cape’s re-elected chairperson Jeff Rosenberg pledged the hospitality industry’s support to help achieve excellence in tourism and move the sector forward.
He said it started with an ongoing collaborative team effort from all stakeholders.
“We can’t do it alone. We need everyone on-board to make his or her contribution to ensure that we always move in the right direction. We need to continue to work hard to improve this already thriving industry to better our economy,” he said.
Re-elected board members responsible for driving key segments for the association in the Western and Northern Cape include: Carl van Rooyen as chairperson of the restaurant and catering segment with Dawn Smith as alternate of this segment and Ruth Kamau as chairperson of the small accommodation segment, with Friedrich Schaefer as alternate for this segment. Three segment positions will remain until next year’s AGM when they are up for election. They include Joep Schoof as chairperson of hotel segment and Chris Godenir as the alternate, Ndaba Dube as the chairperson of the young professionals segment, with Noli Mini as the alternate and Alan Lester as chairperson of the trusted partners segment with Karin Augustyn as the alternate for the segment.