Cape Town to tap into remote work visa economic boon

Staff Writer
By Staff Writer, ITWeb
Johannesburg, 14 Feb 2022

The City of Cape Town, which has positioned itself as the remote working destination of choice, says it’s looking to capitalise on the economic spin-offs offered by digital nomads.

This, after president Cyril Ramaphosa indicated during last week’s State of the Nation Address that a “comprehensive review of the work visa system is currently under way”.

The review, explained Ramaphosa, is exploring the possibility of new visa categories that could enable economic growth, such as a start-up visa and remote working visa.

In a statement, alderman James Vos, the city’s mayoral committee member for economic growth, welcomes the latest developments, saying the remote work visa presents economic spin-offs for Cape Town.

“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.”

The tourism sector has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Department of Tourism, the Western Cape is SA’s most developed tourism region. The tourism industry in that province has grown faster and created more jobs than any other industry, states the department.

It’s been noted that tourism accounted for 9% of the country’s gross domestic product before lockdown restrictions were implemented in March 2020, and injected the local economy with R25.7 billion in 2019.

Furthermore, the city was named among the “best cities” across the globe for remote workers last year.

According to Vos, he made a proposal to national government, suggesting it 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.

In addition, he plans to begin engagements with industry bodies, such as Cape Town Tourism and the Federated Hospitality Association of South Africa, 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,” he states. “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.”