The fate of a single tourist visa for the Southern Africa Development Community member countries will be determined at a ministerial meeting in Lusaka this June.
Billed as a “grand debate,” the meeting is expected to come up with an action plan that will lead to the establishment of the single tourist visa.
Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Ezekiel Maige, said it will save visitors the trouble of hopping from one embassy to another to apply for different visas for the country’s they intend to visit within the SADC trading bloc.
SADC has a membership of 15 countries namely: Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Mr Maige said although tourism has the potential to become one of Southern Africa’s largest industries, the sector’s growth is hampered by unnecessary visa requirements.
The chairman of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) Bradah Munganidze, said tourism in the region was further impeded by the lack of reliable air transport.
“Apart from South Africa, other countries in the region have small airlines that are susceptible to global economic fluctuations,” said Dr Munganidze. “We shall also debate the possibility of establishing a joint SADC airline that will make our region more competitive in the tourism industry.”
The role of Retosa is to encourage the relevant sectors in the region to establish a tourism visa in order to increase the market share and revenue of the region in world tourism.
The proposal to establish a single airline is also aimed at making air travel the cheapest means of transport in the region.