Sadc uni-visa takes shape

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ZIMBABWE and Zambia will next week officially launch a Kavango-Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (Kaza) uni-visa in Victoria Falls as the first phase of a four staged process that will eventually result in introduction of a Sadc uni-visa, Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi says.

TAURAI MANGUDHLA

The first phase will allow tourists from 40 countries across the world to access a 30-day visa that will give them access to Zimbabwe and Zambia, Mzembi told journalists in Harare on Wednesday.

“The visa costs US$50 and lasts up to 30 days as long as you remain in Zambia and Zimbabwe; it also covers day trips for those who visit from Botswana through the Kazungula,” said the Minister.

The second phase will see extension of the uni-visa into the other three Kaza countries- Angola, Botswana and Namibia- while the last two stages will extend the facility outside Kaza and into the entire Sadc region. The Sadc uni-visa was first mooted by Sadc head of states in 1998.

“We are working on electronic applications being accepted at a later date in line with global trends that target e-passports and e-borders by 2020.

The government official said equipment has already been installed at the designated ports of entry and training of staff by IBM has been done successfully. He said the project has generated tremendous interest from tourism source markets.

Kaza is potentially the world’s largest conservation area, spanning five southern African countries, Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. It is centered around the Caprivi-Chobe-Victoria Falls area.

Mzembi said the event, to be witnessed by Sadc ministers responsible for tourism and the Sadc secretariat, has been preceded by the launch of the Kaza uni-visa promotion sensitisation programme at the Zimbabwe stand in London two weeks ago.

In between the launch, the 10th meeting of Sadc ministers responsible for tourism will be convened and under spotlight is the issue of the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa which Mzembi says needs to be reinvigorated.

The Kaza uni-visa awareness campaigns are meant to reach out to source markets and London presented itself as the first source market after conclusion of the uni-visa and it is arguably the third market in the world after the Spanish International Tourism Fair and the German International Travel Bourse.

He said financial support for the Kaza uni-visa is coming from the World Bank and jointly from the two governments.

The uni-visa will be issued at four designated ports of entry in Zimbabwe- Harare and Victoria Falls international airports as well as Kazungula and Victoria Falls land ports. The same number of ports have been designated in Zambia.

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