From : Allafrica.com
The Herald : Bright Madera
1 November 2011

ZIMBABWE has stepped up efforts to improve efficiency and border facilitation at its entry points as Government and the private sector revamp operations to match regional and international standards.

Following the completion of a fact-finding mission of Kazungula, Victoria Falls border posts and Victoria Falls airport by Government and the private sector, an action plan has been drawn to guide progress.

The fact-finding mission was held last week in Victoria Falls. Secretary for Regional Integration and International Co-operation, Mr Tedious Chifamba, the head of the delegation, said improvements at border posts would be biased towards tourism rather than cargo.

Victoria Falls is the country’s prime tourism destination, one of the world’s seven wonders. The two border posts link South Africa with Botswana, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

It mainly services tourists travelling from South Africa into Botswana, Zimbabwe and Zambia. Mr Chifamba said Government would improve facilitation at border posts to enhance the country’s competitiveness in business.

“Government is committed to improving conditions through infrastructure development at border post and improve on facilitation and integrated systems,” he said.

Zimbabwe is part of Sadc and Comesa and has been working on regional and international integration to improve trade. Under Comesa, Zimbabwe is benefiting through the Simplified Trade Regime, which allows certain goods to go through member countries without duty being paid for them.

Trade has also become a major contributor to GDP. Tourism, which is expected to grow by 7 percent this year, is one of the major contributors to GDP and conducive trade and travel policies enhance tourism growth.

According to the action matrix, Government will soon embark on the expansion of Kazungula and improve facilities at other two entry points, responding to the surge in tourist inflows.

During last week’s tour, congestion at terminals was witnessed at Victoria Falls airport as visitors queued to have their visas processed.

In the short-term, Zimra and the port authorities are expected to work on plans to decongest the arrival terminal to allow faster clearance of tourists.

Victoria Falls airport manager, Mr Ronnie Masawi, said Air Zimbabwe has four flights into Victoria Falls in a week while South African Airways and the British Airways are coming in every day.

“We are experiencing long queues since the two flights are coming almost at the same time,” he said. “The only way to deal with this problem in the short term is to extend intervals on arrivals. He added there was need for scanners for inspection of luggage.