Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (Retosa) has identified Zimbabwe and Zambia as the pilot countries to start implementing the uni-visa project, an official said.
Addressing local and international members of the media and buyers during a cocktail held on the sidelines of the just-ended 6th Sanganai/Hlanganani World Travel and Tourism Africa Fair in Harare on Friday evening, Retosa director marketing and communication Mr Kwani Donko said his organisation had received funding from the World Bank to ensure the implementation of a uni-visa system for the facilitation of seamless travel in the region.
“The World Bank is assisting us to ensure the implementation of the uni-visa system in the region. In this light, after the successful co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly by Zimbabwe and Zambia which saw delegates crossing into the two countries with ease, the two countries are going to be pilot countries to implement the system,” he said.
Mr Donko said it was high time that the region embraced multi-country packaging of destination to attract more tourists.
“We have completion from South East Africa, Central Africa and we are still competitive. We have great diversity, wildlife and a great people from the bush to the beach and therefore the need to market our 15 countries under one package,” he said.
“I urge international buyers to start selling the region as one. There are more than 15 attractions from Angola to Zimbabwe. We have the Transfrontier Conservation Area with great bio diversity, we have 39 world heritage sites in the Retosa countries and we encourage the media to explore the attractions and sell them to the world.”
Mr Donko said the facilities in the region were also state of the art and comparable to the rest of the world.
“We have five to six star hotels, lodges and everything here and we have a potential to grow the tourism sector if we work together,” he said.
About 50 percent of SADC members do not require visas for tourists from key source markets.
The uni-visa has presented an opportunity to enrich the region’s comparative advantages, which reflects SADC’s determination and willingness to actively position the tourism sector as one of the key economic drivers, thereby increasing tourism contribution to the region’s gross domestic product.
Date: 16 October 2013