Uni-visa launch set for next week

The long awaited SADC pilot Zimbabwe-Zambia uni-visa launch is set for November 28 in Victoria Falls.

Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi
Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi

Zambia and Zimbabwe are pioneers in the project, which is expected to spread to other regional countries. The 30-day visa will cost $50.

Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi told journalists in Harare yesterday that the initiative would go a long way towards attracting tourists to the region.

“The fact that the uni-visa would enable tourists save money and time will help promote tourism. To complement the facility, our countries should open their airspace and borders to foreigners to increase the size of our world tourism share,” Mzembi said.

The uni-visa will initially benefit travelers from some 4O countries, including the UK, USA, Canada, Greece, Israel, Portugal, Netherlands, Rwanda, South Africa and France among others.

Zimbabwe’s major trading partner, China, is not among the beneficiaries for now but negotiations are in progress. Mzembi said opening up the air space and borders to foreigners was a huge investment which did not require financial resources but just a paradigm shift.

He warned that if the borders are not opened up for visitors, Africa would continue earning a paltry 4 percent of the world’s tourism earnings.

According to Mzembi, Zimbabwe would start talking of real tourism when international aircraft start landing at the Victoria Falls airport. “The most effective painkillers to our economy are the tourism and services sectors.”

The uni-visa project was bankrolled by the World Bank and Zimbabwe and Zambia governments.

SADC Home Affairs and Tourism ministers are expected to grace the uni-visa official launch.

European countries and some East African nations, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda already have a uni-visa system in operation.

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