from DANIEL JONES in Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe
VICTORIA FALLS, (CAJ News) – TOURISM industry stakeholders in Zimbabwe are advocating for the Uni-visa facility currently operational between the country and neighbouing Zambia to be extended to the rest of the region in order to boost the sector.
This would facilitate easier movements for tourists across countries and enhance regional integration in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc.
The Uni-visa was piloted in 2013 to facilitate the movement of delegates to the United National World Tourism General Assembly co-hosted by Victoria Falls and Livingstone, the resort neighboring towns of Zimbabwe and Zambia respectively.
The facility was to be later introduced to the whole of the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, also covering Angola, Botswana and Namibia, towards a vision of seamless borders and promoting tourism convenience for visitors around SADC.
Nonetheless, it remains confined to the two countries, falling short of a target to roll it out across the region by 2020.
Anald Musonza, the Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Victoria Falls chapter chairperson, said tourists want to visit multiple countries hence the need for the facility.
“The KAZA visa which was introduced a few years back needs to be embraced by all the KAZA countries to allow multiple country itineraries across our region,” he said.
“Post COVID-19 we foresee a wider need for the Uni-visa as travelers would want to access multiple destinations within the region because most tourists do not just visit one country on a long haul trip. The feeling is the same with our counterparts across the river and we need more countries.”
Some players in the industry have also implored authorities not to make the most of the uni-visa to facilitate goods movement within the region through the One-Stop-Border Post concept.
This is anticipated to facilitate the growth of uniform standards across the region as well as reduce costs for tourists especially with regards to COVID-19 testing, as currently, they have to be screened at every point of entry.
The visa is valid for 30 days, on condition that holders could cross into Zimbabwe or Zambia using any port of entry within the period.
It also covers tourists visiting Botswana for day trips through the Kazungula Border Post but was not valid if staying in Botswana overnight.
– CAJ News