Middle Eastern visa concessions a boon for South African EFL industry
The South African Department of Home Affairs has implemented a major visa reform by allowing nationals from Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to obtain visas on arrival in South Africa, removing the cumbersome barrier to entry of the visa application process. This has been in effect since 15th August 2019.
With Saudi Arabia being the top 2018 student week provider out of all nationalities for member schools of Education South Africa (EduSA), the national association of English language centres in South Africa, this augurs well for the industry and has been welcomed both locally and from the student source markets in question.
The Saudi Arabian market, in particular, is prone to last-minute bookings and South Africa can now reap the benefits of this thanks to the new visa concessions. Tania Copeland from The International English School in Somerset West in the Cape Winelands, elaborates, “We have definitely seen an increase in student enrolments due to the ease in obtaining the entry visa on arrival. Students can now book this week and arrive the following week – so the short, spontaneous booking is now possible.”
English language centres in South Africa are extremely positive about the visa developments. “We see huge potential for South Africa’s growth across the Middle East for tourism and studying now that the visa exemptions have been implemented. Students from the Middle East, Saudi Arabia in particular, have the means to study and travel, and these new regulations go a long way in making South Africa an even more attractive destination for students as the country of choice for English language study,” commented Gavin Eyre, owner and director of International House in Cape Town.
With many countries currently employing restrictive visa regimes, South Africa stands to gain from this welcome development.