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Saturday, March 2, 2024
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Angola takes ‘positive step’ with visa-free entry

Angola takes ‘positive step’ with visa-free entryPresident of Angola Joao Lourenco.

Angola’s recently passed resolution to allow 98 countries visa-free entry has been well received as “a positive step in the right direction” for tourism growth on the continent and abroad.

The new resolution allows a 90-day visa-free stay in Angola to anyone arriving exclusively for tourism purposes.

For other types of visas, such as work, study, medical treatment or residence permits, foreign citizens must apply through formal channels.

The southern Africa nation listed Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, the US, Russia and China as its priority foreign countries.

Fourteen African nations are on the list of visa-free beneficiaries, namely Tanzania, Eswatini, Morocco, Lesotho, Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Botswana, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Seychelles, Cape Verde and Algeria.

Asia has eleven countries on the visa-exempt list – Israel, UAE, Japan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, India, Indonesia, Singapore, Timor-Leste and China.

Europe has 35 countries on the list, including Turkey, Russia, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, the Vatican State, the Czech Republic, Luxembourg, Hungary, the Netherlands, Monaco, Belgium, Denmark, Spain, Great Britain and Ireland.

Other European nations on the list are Norway, Estonia, Finland, Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Slovakia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Romania, Cyprus, Slovenia, Iceland, Italy and Portugal.

In the Americas, the countries listed are the US, Mexico, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Panama, Uruguay and Brazil.

From the Oceania region, the countries are Fiji, Australia, Marshall Islands, Solomon Islands, Micronesia, Nauru, New Zealand, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu and Niue Island.

In the Caribbean and Pacific region, 16 countries were selected. These are Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Cook Islands, Jamaica, Kiribati and Dominican Republic.

Also exempted are Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago.

The new directive takes effect immediately.

Positive step in the right direction

Tshifhiwa Tshivhengwa, CEO of the Tourism Business Council of South Africa, and Interim Chair of the Southern African Development Community Business Council Tourism Alliance, told Tourism Update that the move by Angola was a positive step in the right direction.

“Countries like Mozambique, South Africa, Seychelles, Kenya, and Ghana have reported remarkable increases in tourism figures [since allowing visa-free access to certain countries].”

He said barriers to visa liberalisation in southern Africa still remained and encompassed security concerns, administrative capacity constraints, and divergent visa policies among the SADC member states.

“For tourists, this lack of a harmonised policy framework exacerbates the process of implementing streamlined visa procedures,” said Tshivhengwa.

Progress made on SADC Univisa

A significant aspect of the SADC Tourism Programme is the SADC Univisa, which aims to simplify visa processes and streamline visitor movement within the region. By doing so, it encourages cross-border tourism, economic growth, and an enhanced visitor experience. 

“The SADC Tourism Programme identifies the harmonisation of tourism policies and regulations among SADC Member States as another vital initiative. By promoting the standardisation of policies, the programme seeks to create a more unified and appealing tourism environment in the region, enabling hassle-free travel and fostering cross-border collaboration,” said Tshivhengwa.

He revealed that the SADC Univisa project was being piloted by five member states: Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. 

“The project is making good progress, and a mission to assess visa technologies, a legal framework and revenue-sharing models, and processes have been carried out in these member states,” said Tshivhengwa.

He added that the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance further supported the secretariat with training for immigration officials to foster a tourist-friendly environment at border posts.

“Visa liberalisation has been shown to have a positive impact on tourism destinations, given that it is one way that African countries can overcome some of the challenges they face in attracting tourists, including the vast distances, nascent infrastructure development, infrequent flight schedules, and high cost of travel,” concluded Tshivhengwa.

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