South Africa's Department of Home Affairs today highlighted various measures to ensure a smooth flow of football tourists for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009 and the 2010 FIFA World Cup™, including an ‘event visa'.
The special ‘event visas' will be free of charge for visitors and can only be acquired by people who can provide proof that they have purchased a ticket for one of the FIFA football matches. The branded visa has now been finalised and will be tested by eligible visitors coming to the country for the FIFA Confederations Cup 2009.
Minister Mapisa-Nqakula gave the assurance that issuing the special event visa would in no way compromise security and that apart from the usual screening process for terrorists and criminals, her department would also scan lists of known football hooligans and ticket touts.
Aside from the ‘event visa' the Department of Home Affairs also announced their intentions to speed up the immigration process through their ‘advanced passenger processing' programme.
"Before a person actually arrives at any port of entry we will have all their information and they will be pre-screened. We will place South African immigration officials at foreign airports to process these visitors," said 2010 Programme Manager for the Department of Home Affairs, Morne Fourie, saying these airports would include those in the United Kingdom, Dubai, Hong Kong, the Netherlands and India.
To ensure smooth implementation of its plans, the Department of Home Affairs has ensured that there will be sufficient numbers of immigration officials on hand to manage the increased number of visitors, with special training of the first batch of 161 new immigration officials having just been completed.
"They have finished their three-month intensive training in Mafikeng (South Africa) at the South African National Intelligence Academy and they will soon be deployed to OR Tambo International Airport and Cape Town International Airport,'' said Minister Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.
The Department of Home Affairs is confident that the improved efficiency of immigration staff would stand the country in good stead.