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SOCHI, February 28. /TASS/. South Africa hopes that Russian airlines will resume direct flights to that country, South Africa’s ambassador to Russia Nomasonto Maria Sibanda-Thusi said in an interview with TASS at the Russian Investment Forum in Sochi.
"We don’t have a direct airline to South Africa and back to Russia. We still have to go through other countries to connect. Yes, it does impact tourism numbers. So there is a process of checking what happened to Aeroflot, to Russia, when it used to roam the skies of Africa," she said.
According to her, "many African countries are now talking to Aeroflot."
"So we hope there will be a direct flight. We hope this will accelerate tourism as well as business," she said.
Russian flagship carrier Aeroflot started flights to South Africa in 1993. In late 2000, the company closed its representative office in South Africa due to lack of prospects for further operation in that country.
The talks on a visa-free travel between Russia and South Africa are on the final stages, she went on.
"It’s on the final stages. We are just waiting for this period of 30 days for it to kick in. Within one month, there will be an announcement that travel now is open, nobody (from Russia) needs a visa to travel to South Africa and vice-versa. The agreement in truth is now done. Tourists will be able to stay for 90 days out of every half of the year," she said.
On January 31, South African Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba told TASS that South Africa and Russia will launch visa-free travel at the end of February, when the two countries will mark 25 years since they established diplomatic relations.
General rules concerning entry into South Africa for minors stay in place for the Russian nationals. The birth certificate and permission from the second parent if the child travels with one of them are necessary. Both documents must be translated into English with the translation authorized. The home affairs minister said that 90 days of a visa-free stay in South Africa is in effect once every calendar year.
On January 18, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev signed an instruction on concluding a protocol between the countries on visa-free travel up to 90 days for holders of regular international passports.