By MAIMBOLWA MULIKELELA –
ZAMBIA’s tourism sector will become competitive following the removal of the visa requirements for all Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) nationals entering the country for official business.
The Livingstone Tourism Association (LTA) has said Zambia would now be able to compete with countries like Botswana, Namibia and South Africa where visas are not required.
Zambia has issued a circular waiving visas and visa fees for all COMESA nationals on official business.
In an interview in Livingstone, LTA chairperson Alex Mutali said tourism was now poised for growth.
“This is the way to go for Zambia and now the Government should also work on waiving visas for other countries to make the tourism industry more competitive. I know the Government will lose some revenues as a result of the process but they stand to gain in terms of investment and increase in tourist arrivals,” Mr Mutali said.
Separately, Zambia Tourism Board (ZTB) chairperson Mark O’Donnell said the removal of the visa requirements for all COMESA nationals presents an opportunity for further investment in the tourism sector.
Mr O’Donnell said this would also be a boost to the economy.
“This is very impressive because it will now be easier for visitors to visit Zambia as the barriers to entry have been removed. Zambia has interesting things to offer in terms of business and conferences as well as tourism,” Mr O’Donnell said.
Last week, COMESA immigration officer Houssein Guedi Absieh said that Zambiahad issued a circular waiving visas and visa fees for all COMESA nationals on official business.
Three other COMESA countries namely; Mauritius, Rwanda and Seychelles have also waived visas to all COMESA citizens.
“This has been welcomed as progressive and paves the way for the implementation of the Protocol on Free Movement of Persons, Services, Labour and Rights of Establishment and Residence in the region.
“So far four countries, Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, out of the 19
have signed the protocol of free movement of persons. Only Burundi has fully ratified,” Mr Guedi Absieh had said.
Times of Zambia