Freeman Razemba Senior Reporter
Zimbabwe has with immediate effect revised and loosened some of the country’s visa requirements as part of efforts to boost the tourism sector. According to the new visa requirements, all Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) nationals no longer need visas to enter into the country while 37 countries have been moved to a more friendly category.
Addressing a Press conference last Thursday, Department of Immigration principal director Mr Clemence Masango said the new position was in response to calls by players in the tourism industry for a relaxed visa regime.
The Zimbabwe migration management system comprises a three-tier visa model classified into categories A, B and C. Category A refers to countries whose nationals are exempt from visa requirements while those in category B obtain visas at the port of entry, that is on arrival. Category C national are required to apply for visas prior to travel.
“This new position completes the circle and process for us as Zimbabwe in removing all visa controls in respect of all Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) countries in line with and fulfilment of the spirit and objectives of the Sadc Protocol on the Facilitation of Movement of Persons.
“All Sadc countries no longer need visas to enter Zimbabwe as they are now in category A of our visa regime.”
Mr Masango said 37 countries including China, Equatorial Guinea, Iran, Algeria, Turkey and Cuba had been moved from category C to category B with immediate effect.
He said although China was now in category B, there were conditions attached to that position.
Some of the conditions were that only Chinese tourists travelling as a group cleared by tour operators and travel agencies in their country, qualify. “Chinese business persons and other citizens of the People’s Republic of China as approved by their government will continue to apply for visas on line.
“People whose countries are in category C of our visa regime need to apply for and obtain visas prior to travelling to Zimbabwe. Applications are now done and processed on-line (www.evisa.gov.zw),” Mr Masango said.
He said this was an ongoing process and not a once-off exercise. “Consultations will continue to be made with stakeholders, with a view to further relax visa controls in order to make travel easier and Zimbabwe a more favourable and accessible destination,” Mr Masango said.
He said they expected the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority together with the industry in general to now gear up, taking advantage of this development. “It is expected that the new visa regime will enhance migration flows into Zimbabwe with the resultant socio-economic benefits to the country,” he said.
Mr Masango said they believe that this good development should positively contribute to the successful implementation of the Zimbabwe Agenda For Sustainable Socio Economic Transformation (Zim-Asset).
The conference was attended by ZTA chief executive officer Mr Karikoga Kaseke, businesspeople and senior Government officials. Mr Kaseke hailed the move, saying it would greatly improve tourism numbers especially from China.