SADC countries contemplate setting up a common visa system for tourism purposes

April 29, 2014

Single visa for African countries in the works

Taking a cue from the Schengen countries that have and share a common visa and open borders for many purposes, countries of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC), are contemplating something similar to boost their tourism potential. SADC comprises of the following countries: Angola, Botswana, Congo, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Madagascar, Malawi and Mauritius.

This proposition was announced by Zimbabwe’s minister of tourism and hospitality, Walter Mzembi, who revealed that this would be the main program for discussion and deliberation (i.e. the agenda) at the UNWTO 56th Commission Meeting for Africa, which is scheduled to be held in Angola this week.

Mr. Walter Mzembi also stated that these countries comprising the SADC together account for only about four per cent market share of global tourism arrivals. He attributed this low share of the market to the fact that the continent of Africa is a closed continent. He also added that it is an aberration in the days of double digit share of the global market held by other nations and that Africa too should seek to attain this number of tourists to their countries.

It is expected that South Africa too would be a part of the ‘common visa regime’ for tourism purposes. It is also being said that a common visa for tourism purposes would be first implemented for SADC countries and after that, based on the results, other countries like South Africa would also become part of the ‘common tourist visa system’.

According to a tourism industry observer and expert, this kind of a ‘common visa regime’ would promote the introduction of more multi-country tours combining the many fascinating venues in Africa.

In and by itself, South Africa has introduced and is introducing many measures for promoting tourism and these include steps such as setting up tourism offices world-wide, inauguration of a tourism convention centre, etc.
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