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STATEMENT BY THE MAYCO MEMBER FOR ECONOMIC GROWTH, ALDERMAN JAMES VOS

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s announcement that the National Government will be looking into implementing a Remote Work Visa is very welcome.

Just over a year ago, I first highlighted the economic spin-offs of this new visa when Cape Town made the Big 7 Travel website’s ‘Best cities for remote working’ list.

Since then, the City in partnership with Cape Town Tourism (CTT) hosted a Remote Work Webinar that brought together tourism and hospitality sector stakeholders who shared insights on how and why to appeal to ‘digital nomads’.

We have learnt that each one of these working tourists tend to spend up to R50 000 during their stay, which has the potential to add up to a significant boon for the economy. This revenue reaches multiple industries, including educational institutions, transport, accommodation, retail, and restaurants.

Under my proposal, the National Government would simply need to make an amendment to Section 11 of the Immigration Act, which relates to an extension of visas beyond 90 days for specific activities. This is because remote workers tend to stay beyond three months in a location.

The application can be authorised by a Ministerial Directive while applying regulations already in place and governing visitors’ visa applications. At present, these visa applicants must show:

  • control of sufficient financial resources (by means of a bank statement);
  • proof of accommodation and medical insurance for the duration of their stay;
  • medical certificate, radiological report, and police clearances.

The remote working visa will additionally:

  • require an applicant to provide evidence of employment abroad, as well as a sufficient income from such employment or own business registered abroad;
  • allow the applicant’s dependants to accompany them.

Last year, I submitted this proposed to the National Home Affairs Department and in the coming days, I will reach out again with suggestions for the next steps.

I will also begin engagements with industry bodies such as CTT and the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa (Fedhasa) to get the ball rolling on creating specific product and pricing categories that cater to this specific market so that Cape Town remains top of mind for these travellers.

South Africa has long been a global tourist hotspot. By showing that we also have the means for people to work while they’re here, we entice them to stay longer.

They will then amplify the message among their network of friends and family about this being a prime destination for work and play.

The remote work model isn’t just a trend, it’s here to stay. Let’s fully capitalise on what we as a city and country can offer digital nomads.

 

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