The sum accrued from the successful issuance of visas to 133,114 applicants between January 2013 and June 2015.
The N21,000 fee per visa applicant, comprises N8,600 visa fees which go directly to the South Africa embassy and N12,000 service charges that go to VSF, the handling company.
Frequent (Nigerian) travellers to that destination complain that the three months duration of the South Africa visa makes the fee expensive and the process cumbersome and makes them have to apply and pay repeatedly.
Some South Africans working in Nigeria likewise complain of the cumbersome process of procuring the Nigerian visa, which is also expensive.
However, both countries are making efforts at resolving visa issues and other challenegs to seamless interconectivity, BusinessDay gathered.
Explaining the breakdown of the visas issued to Nigerians in the period in his opening remarks at the South Africa Tourism/West Africa Trade workshop held recently in Lagos, Mokgethi Monaisa, South African Consul General in Nigeria, noted that 59,657 visas were issued in 2013 and 48,289 in 2014, while 25,168 were issued in the first half of 2015.
Speaking further on the statistics, Evelyn Mahlaba, regional director for Africa, South African Tourism, noted that the bulk of the successful visa applicants were visitors from the age category of between 25 years to late 30s. Also, about 40 percent of the applicants visited for leisure while 60 percent came for business.
Mahlaba observed that over 60,000 Nigerian arrivals to South Africa in 2014 (a figure representing 9 percent of Nigeria’s total outbound tours), were attracted by the country’s value for money tailor-made tour packages, well-developed tourism facilities, quality accommodations in its 5,253 graded hotels and resorts, efficient transport systems, beautiful landscape and exuberant culture among others.
Besides these, South African Tourism went the extra mile in researching what appeals to Nigerians while on trips and have provided them ample opportunities to fulfill these dreams, while in the country.
These activities include; exploration, shopping, cultural exchange, interaction with people and relaxation, which leave them spending an average of $4,000 for a two-week trip.
However, the embassy is partnering with other relevant South African agencies in Nigeria, especially South African Tourism, Nigeria Association of Tour Operators (NATOP), National Association of Travel Agents of Nigeria (NANTA) to woo more Nigerian visitors to their country, in line with their vision of attracting 12 million international tourists by 2018.
Part of the efforts of wooing more Nigerian visitors, (who rank the highest tourist arrivals for South Africa across the continent) were the opening of South African Tourism office in Lagos, easy visa process, improved air connectivity, courtesy of South African Airways, and the recent launch of VSF office in Port Harcourt, among others.
While 25,168 visas were issued in the first half of 2015, the number is expected to double in the second half of the year, as many are optimistic of the economy rebounding as policies of the new government begin to impact the economy.
-BusinessDay Online/ Obinna Emelike