By Daniel Chigundu
VICE President Retired general Constantino Chiwenga says the government is working on reviewing the country’s visa regime under its 100 days work plan with a view to make it easier for tourists to come to the country.
Strict visa regime is one of the bottle-necks identified to be turning tourists away from Zimbabwe as most of them are required to get the visas before they travel to the country.
Zimbabwe currently has three categories in its visa regimes, category A, Category B and Category 3.
Category A: Countries whose nationals do not require a Visa. Category B: Countries whose nationals are granted a visa at the port of entry.
Category C: Countries whose nationals are required to apply for and obtain a Zimbabwe visa prior to travelling.
Most of the world’s major sources of outbound tourists are in Category C.
Officially opening the stakeholder Consultative Workshop for the National Tourism Sector Strategy, Vice President Chiwenga said the government has placed on high priority the issue of reviewing the visa regime.
“..A robust Tourism Sector Strategy should make entry and exit of tourists smooth and should facilitate easy access to tourism centres. I am aware that most countries in Africa except for Seychelles still require about two-thirds of the world’s population to obtain a traditional visa prior to visiting them.
“As part of its efforts to develop and promote tourism and facilitate the ease of movement by tourists, the government has placed a high priority on the review and appropriate amendment of the visa regime in its work plan for the first 100 days from 1 January 2018.
“While concerns have been raised about unwarranted delays and challenges faced by tourists as they arrive at our ports of entry, I am pleased to point out that the Ministry of Home Affairs and Culture has responded positively by committing to expedite the e-government program.
“This will entail, among others the issuance of an instant visa at every port of entry in a bid to improve efficiencies,” he said.
Speaking at a workshop during the 2017 edition of Sanganai/Hlanganani Market workshop, Tour Brokers International chief executive Uloma Egbuna said Zimbabwe needs to seriously look at its visa regimes especially with regards to Nigerians.
“I also want to say getting the visa is also not easy; a number of people got refused these visas. I was refused a visa to Zimbabwe three years ago. As Tour Brokers what we do is moving huge groups of people to different destinations of the world.
“Three years ago I think we had a group of 520 people whom we were taking to Zambia and Zimbabwe to see the Victoria Falls. The whole idea was to take them to Victoria Falls from Livingstone and from Zimbabwe, however, Zimbabwe did not issue visas to any of those people, so they all came to Victoria Falls but they just came to the Livingstone side and that is big revenue that Zimbabwe lost.
“We also have the Kaza-Uni-visa which apparently applies only to category B people, so I don’t understand how we would encourage Nigerians to come into Zimbabwe if we have these visa restrictions,” she said.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke is also on record calling for the scrapping of the country’s visa regime arguing that it was affecting tourism progress.