Nigeria, South Africa Will Experience Growth in Many Areas Once Visa Issue Is Sorted, Says South Africa’s Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille

Nigeria, South Africa Will Experience Growth in Many Areas Once Visa Issue Is Sorted, Says South Africa’s Tourism Minister Patricia De Lille

South Africa’s Minister for Tourism, Patricia de Lille, has said that if the visa waiver negotiation between Nigeria and South Africa is sorted out and agreed, there will be a strong potential for growth in many areas for the two African countries.

The tourism Minister said this in an exclusive interview with ARISE news at Africa’s Travel Indaba, a huge Pan African Tourism Trade show which invited countries from all over Africa to exhibit their tourist destinations as well as packages that will help to enhance the tourism industry in not just South Africa, but the rest of Africa as well, with an aim to increase the continent’s image and generated revenue through tourism,

De Lille, speaking on Nigeria and South Africa’s relationship, revealed that South Africa has offered Visa waivers to about 132 countries across the world and 32 countries in Africa where the citizens of these countries are entitled to a visa vaiver for up to 90 days within a year with an option to extend, and that South Africa has been in negotiations with Nigeria to secure a visa waiver as well.

She said, “Nigeria is one of the ten countries in Africa where the negotiations is currently on between the Department of Home Affairs and your Home Affairs Department in Nigeria. I keep on following up as the Minister of Tourism because my interest is to see more Nigerians traveling to South Africa. 

“We’ve received about 16,000 visitors from Nigeria in the first quarter of this year, it’s like an 18, 16% increase. So there is movement, but it’s just taking very long for Nigerians to get the visas.

“And in my last conversation with the Minister of Home Affairs, I asked him, ‘what are you talking to Nigeria about and when will we have the visa sorted out?’ And he informed me in their discussions with Nigeria they’re talking about two types of visas; one visa for business and for meetings, conferences and events, and then another visa for tourism. 

“I immediately asked, ‘but why two different visas?’ And that’s all I could get from him.

“But I also wanted to know when these negotiations be concluded, and he assured me that, you know, there are some delays on our side and some delays in Nigeria, and as you know, I don’t deal with visas, I have to rely on the Ministers. 

“But I can’t agree more with you, you know the potential for growth to both countries is there if we can sort out the visa issue.”

The minister also said that she had extended an invitation to Nigeria to be a part of 2024’s edition of Africa’s Travel Indaba, saying, “I have extended an invitation to Nigeria many months ago, and also, in the invitation to invite your Minister, also to say that if you are interested in getting space to have an exhibition that’s also available, so it’s really up to the countries to decide what to do.

“We have on the floor here, as we speak now, 26 different African countries, including Burkina Faso and Eritrea, that have also joined us for the first time this year. So I can engage with the Minister of Tourism there and see how we can get a closer relationship.

 But it is up to Nigeria to decide whether they would like to have a space here on the floor and have a promotion of Nigeria.”

Ozioma Samuel-Ugwuezi

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