Saturday 5 March 2016

Zimbabwe Revamps Visa Regime

As part of efforts to boost the tourism sector, government has relaxed the visa regime for 37 countries including China while it has removed visa requirements for all visitors from the Southern African Development Community. Zimbabwe uses a migration management system with a three tier visa model classified into categories A, B and C. Category A refers to countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements while those in category B obtain visas at the port of entry on arrival. Category C nationals are required to apply for visas prior to travel.

Addressing journalists in Harare on Thursday, Immigration principal director Clemence Masango said with immediate effect China, along with 36 other countries, had been moved from Category C to B. The other countries include Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Algeria, Turkey and Cuba. All SADC countries have now been migrated to Category A.

"This new position completes the circle and process for us in respect of all SADC countries in line with the fulfilment of the spirit and objectives of the SADC protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons," Masango said.

Only Angola and Madagascar had remained outside category A.

Masango however said while China is now in Category B, there are still some conditions attached to the eligibility criteria for its nationals.

"Only Chinese tourists travelling as a group cleared by tour operators and travel agencies in China qualify. Secondly, Chinese business persons and other citizens of China as approved by their Government will continue to apply for visas online, a process which takes about five days to complete."

A total 83 countries still remain in Category C and their nationals need to apply for and obtain visas prior to travelling to Zimbabwe.

"This new position is in response to the voice of players and interest groups in the tourism and hospitality industry who want to see more facilitation of movement of persons than control," he said.

Masango said the Visa regime revision is part of an ongoing process and consultations will continue with a view to further relax visa controls in order to make travel easier and Zimbabwe a more favourable and accessible destination.

Masango also said consultations are ongoing to re-institute the KAZA-UNIVISA project which stopped in December last year with a view of resuming the system in this month.

Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) chief executive officer Karikoga Kaseke said the process is a positive step in the right direction but more needs to be done as well.

Official figures show that Zimbabwe has been receiving between 3 800 and 5 500 Chinese tourists per annum, against total arrivals of between 80 000 and 100 000 in neighbouring countries despite Harare and Beijing having signed the Approved Destination Status agreement in 2003 aimed at encouraging nationals from the Asian giant to prioritize Zimbabwe.

Source: Zimbabwe Revamps Visa Regime (03/03/16)

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