Home » Ghanaian Visits to South Africa Surge by 249% Following Visa Waiver

Ghanaian Visits to South Africa Surge by 249% Following Visa Waiver

Relaxed Entry Rules Boost Tourism and Business Ties Between Ghana and South Africa

by Adenike Adeodun

The recent relaxation of visa regulations between Ghana and South Africa has led to a significant surge in travel, with Ghanaians taking advantage of the new policy to explore business and leisure opportunities in one of Africa’s largest economies. According to the latest data from Statistics South Africa (SSA), the number of Ghanaians entering South Africa skyrocketed by 249.4% in the first quarter of 2024, compared to the same period in 2023.

In the initial three months of 2024, a record-breaking 7,904 Ghanaians visited South Africa, a substantial increase from the 2,262 visitors recorded during the first quarter of 2023. This growth is a direct result of the visa-waiver agreement initiated in November 2023, allowing for 90-day visa-free travel between the two nations for business or tourism purposes. This policy change is part of a broader effort to enhance bilateral relations and boost tourism and economic exchanges within the continent.

The impact of the visa waiver is evident in the broader context of South African tourism, which saw a total of 2.4 million international arrivals from January to March 2024, marking a 15.4% increase from the previous year. Of these, 1.8 million were from other African countries, with Ghana notably leading in growth rate.

At the 2024 Africa’s Travel Indaba in Durban, South African Minister of Tourism, Patricia de Lille, highlighted the significant contribution of Ghanaian tourists to the local tourism industry. She noted, “Ghana’s remarkable increase in arrivals exemplifies the potential of intra-African cooperation and the benefits of easing travel restrictions.”

The surge in Ghanaian travelers is part of a broader increase in global visitors to South Africa. The first quarter of 2024 also saw substantial growth in tourists from the Americas, Europe, and Asia. Notably, tourist arrivals from the Americas increased by 12.4%, while European visitors grew by 8.6%, with the United Kingdom and Germany seeing significant increases. From Asia, there was a notable 25.4% rise in tourist arrivals, underscoring South Africa’s appeal as a global destination.

The surge in international tourism is crucial in South Africa’s economic recovery post-COVID-19. The KwaZulu-Natal Premier, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, expressed optimism about the tourism sector’s recovery, stating, “We are nearing pre-pandemic levels of tourism, and the positive impact on our GDP is substantial.” She cited the significant economic contributions of tourism, which ranged between R22 million and R260 million annually from 2004 to 2022, culminating in an overall impact of approximately R3 billion.

The 2024 Africa’s Travel Indaba, themed “Unlimited Africa,” has become a pivotal event for showcasing Africa’s diverse travel offerings. The event has gathered 1,200 exhibitors from 26 African countries and over 1,100 buyers from 55 countries worldwide, facilitating important discussions and partnerships. This platform not only promotes the tourist attractions of each participating country but also fosters economic ties and collaborative opportunities across the continent.

The visa waiver between Ghana and South Africa represents a transformative policy that has significantly facilitated travel and opened new avenues for cultural and economic exchange. This development is a testament to the potential benefits of reducing travel barriers within Africa, providing a model for other nations looking to bolster regional tourism and economic activity. As countries continue to recover from the pandemic’s impact, such initiatives are vital in revitalizing and sustaining the tourism sector, which is crucial for economic development and cultural exchange across Africa.

Source: Graphic Online

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