Fedhasa calls on SA government to prioritise digital nomad visas to expand tourism growth

The cooling towers are a popular tourist attraction in Soweto, Johannesburg, where visitors also get to bungee jump. Picture: Unsplash

The cooling towers are a popular tourist attraction in Soweto, Johannesburg, where visitors also get to bungee jump. Picture: Unsplash

Published Feb 13, 2024


Despite tourism’s immense potential to provide job creation and economic growth, the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) has expressed deep disappoint that tourism was not mentioned during the 2024 State of the Nation Address (Sona).

According to Fedhasa national chairperson Rosemary Anderson, the president’s speech was a missed opportunity to recognise tourism’s immense capacity for job creation and economic growth.

Speaking to Elvis Presslin on SAfm, Anderson said that though President Cyril Ramaphosa spoke on the recently published draft visa regulations, these do not count as they refer to work permits and are not tourism permits.

Fedhasa’s national chairperson said that the president could’ve provided clarity on South Africa’s digital nomad visa, which has been in the pipeline for close to three years but has not been implemented.

“What we are really keen for our government to introduce is something called a digital nomad visa.

“At the moment, there are about 35 million digital nomads in the world and South Africa is perfectly poised to be a digital nomad attraction because obviously of our exchange rate, which is really favourable, and secondly our beautiful natural attractions,” said Anderson.

She said that the digital nomad visa would allow remote workers the opportunity to live and work in South Africa for six months and up to three years while being employed by an overseas company, and this would in turn generate jobs as these digital nomads would spend on accommodation, transport and restaurants while in the country.

In her argument, Anderson highlighted that Mexico is the biggest country when it comes to attracting digital nomads, and even though the country faces challenges similar to South Africa, such as crime, it is still able to attract visitors.

“If they can do it, we can definitely do it. I think they are capturing about 14% of the market at the moment. They are attracting a lot of people and all they’re doing every month is spending money in their country. It’s like a long-term tourist,” said Anderson.

Anderson highlighted that on average, digital nomads spend close to R38 000 a month in the country they are visiting.

She also said that the president made reference to the digital nomad visa three years ago, saying that it was going to happen.

However, it has been sad to witness it not being implemented while many countries, including those in the SADC, have implemented their digital nomad visas and are making forex.

“We just need our Department of Home Affairs to get with it and actually do what other countries are doing. We can actually look at best practice which is happening elsewhere and just implement it – as Nike said, just do it.

“This has been spoken about for three years now. Our president has spoken about it in speeches and it’s just not happening,” said Anderson.