Travellers from Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand will from Thursday no longer require a visa to visit South Africa for holidays, conferencing or business meetings.
Home affairs minister Aaron Motsoaledi made the announcement during his budget speech on Thursday. These countries are four of seven Motsoaledi said would be granted visa-free status.
Motsoaledi said the department would implement visa waivers for Ghana, Cuba, and Sao Tome and Principe after negotiations with these countries had been concluded. He said the department was scheduled to complete these negotiations by the end of this month and the implementation would follow soon thereafter.
"We took this decision (to waive visa requirements) unilaterally but we are engaging these countries to see how they can relax entry requirements for our citizens. I am glad to say that Qatar has already waived visa requirements for South Africans and this will enable our people to attend Qatar's Fifa World Cup 2022 easier," Motsoaledi said.
He said the department was continuously reviewing its operations to contribute toward growing the economy, facilitating the creation of jobs and securing the country's borders.
"Home affairs has an important contribution to make in growing tourism and by extension growing the economy and creating jobs. We are constantly reviewing our operations to ensure that we relax entry requirements without compromising our responsibility towards the safety and security of our citizens," Motsoaledi said.
The country had already waived the visa requirement for 82 of the 193 countries who were members of the UN. Eighteen of the countries enjoying a visa-free status in South Africa were on the continent with all Southern African Development Community countries enjoying this status, except for the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Motsoaledi said those countries enjoying the visa-free status were among the nations accounting for the majority of international tourists to SA from the continent, Europe and the Americas.