- Turkey has inexplicably made South Africans ineligible for e-visas.
- No reasons were given for why South Africans were excluded from the e-visa platform.
- Before, it would take three minutes to get a visa.
- Now it will take between 10 to 15 working days from submission.
- Visitors must now obtain a visa from the Turkish embassy in Pretoria.
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Travel agencies are warning their customers that their e-visas to enter Turkey (the country has recently changed its name to Türkiye) are not valid, even if they were issued online from 6 July 2022.
Previously, South Africans could apply for an e-visa online, but seemingly without warning, Turkey's government has stopped South Africans from using this facility, which previously enabled them to get a visa in under three minutes.
Now, South Africans looking to apply via this system are greeted with this message:
"Unfortunately, nationals of the country that you selected are not eligible for e-Visa. Kindly visit the nearest Turkish mission to apply for a visa application. Please visit http://www.visa.gov.tr for the full list of the Turkish Embassies and Consulates."
Flight Centre said in a letter to its customers: "Ordinary passport holders are required to have a visa to enter Turkey. They can obtain three-months period multiple-entry visas from the Turkish embassy [in Pretoria.]"
Rennie Travel gave similar advice, saying the processing time at the embassy will take between 10 to 15 working days from submission.
Rennie Travels advised its customers: "As the process is in a state of flux, please speak to one of our travel advisors for the latest update should you be travelling to Turkey."
The reasoning behind this decision is unknown.
The Turkish government has yet to release a statement on why South Africans now have to apply for visas in person, and calls to the Turkish Embassy in Pretoria went unanswered.
Getting easy access to Turkey has boosted tourism from South Africa to that country over the past few years. The number of South Africans visiting Turkey had tripled from 24,402 in 2008 to 74,652 in 2018.
The Covid-19 pandemic has seen a sharp downturn with only 12,251 visiting in 2019 and 6,088 visiting in 2020.