SADC pilots regional visa to allow seamless travel; Zimbabwe part of 5-nation trials

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By ZamaNdosi Cele for IOL

Delegates and Southern African Tourism stakeholders heard that the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is making progress in its ambitions of having a unified visa system for the region.

The goal is part of the SADC Tourism Programme 2020-2030, headed up by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Secretariat. The secretariat is working with Boundless Southern Africa, the German Cooperation and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ).

The secretariat held a meeting during the Africa’s Travel Indaba 2023 where it provided feedback on the progress it has made in implementing the goals set out the SADC Tourism Programme.

According to the secretariat, the programme serves as a strategic roadmap for developing a sustainable tourism industry within the SADC region, focusing on removing barriers to growth, promoting economic inclusion and transformation, and maximising partnerships through a whole-of-government approach.

“Five core strategic goals guide the secretariat’s initiatives, which include stimulating visitor movement within the region, improving the region’s tourism reputation, developing tourism in Transfrontier Conservation Areas (TFCAs), enhancing visitor experiences, and fostering tourism partnerships and collaboration,” said the secretariat.

One of those goals or initiatives is the SADC Univisa development for seamless regional visitor movement.

The secretariat revealed the SADC Univisa project is being piloted by five member states, namely Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe.

“The project is making good progress, and a mission to assess visa technologies and processes has recently been carried out in these member states,” said the SADC Secretariat.

“The results of this assessment were then validated at a workshop attended by senior immigration and ICT officials in August 2022. Proposals on a legal framework and revenue-sharing models are currently being discussed by participating member states.”

The secretariat highlighted that 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,” it said.