The Western Cape government will lobby the Presidency for the introduction of a “remote working visa” in an effort to increase international travel to the province.

Premier Alan Winde announced this during his State of the Province Address in Genadendal on Wednesday and said the measure was a response to plummeting tourism numbers brought about by global restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Winde added that the tourism industry was one of the most severely affected sectors over the last year.

“I remain extremely concerned about the consequences of constrained tourism, both domestically and globally.

“International tourism will not recover to pre-Covid-19 levels this year as the pandemic continues in many countries around the world,” he said.

“There are also a growing number of restrictions being placed on travel to our country due to what I believe is unfair global reporting on the variant identified by scientists in South Africa. Nevertheless, we need to prepare for what will be another difficult year for the tourism sector in our province.”

The remote working visa will, in theory, bring travellers to the province for longer periods.

This comes after Cape Town made it onto the 2021 list of the 50 “Best Cities for Remote Working”.

“Helping tourism recover will also require that we innovate and embrace new forms of global travel that are emerging in this Covid-19 world.

“These ‘digital nomads’ are a new kind of tourist, who will stay in our province for three months instead of three weeks, enjoying our tourism offer while working on their laptops.

“We have everything it takes to be the best remote working location in the world if we remove the red tape and roll out the red carpet for these travellers,” he said.

The Western Cape will lobby the president and Home Affairs Minister Aaron Motsoaledi to have the visa introduced as soon as possible, Winde said.

Alongside the new visa, Wesgro and the air access programme have secured a second direct flight from the USA.

The route, which is set to start in November, will see Delta Airlines fly from Atlanta to Cape Town.

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