Zimbabwean Vice President Constantino Chiwenga has said that the government is in the process of reviewing the country’s visa requirements to boost tourism and attract foreign direct investment.

“Zimbabwe should take advantage of the international community’s confidence in the new administration to market the country as a preferred destination for tourists and investors. As part of the facilitation of smooth entry for tourists and investors, we have placed a high priority on the review and amendment of our visa regime within the first 100 days in office.”

He added that Zimbabwe should move away from the trend in most African countries where almost two-thirds of the world’s population must obtain visas before entering. He said the Ministry of Home Affairs was committed to having an e-government programme that would ensure visitors got instant visas at points of entry to improve efficiency. “The National Tourism Sector Strategy should, therefore, make the entry and exiting of tourists smooth and also harness domestic tourism, which is a key component of growth.” The government will also revamp Air Zimbabwe.

The local tourism industry has welcomed this development. Ross Kennedy, CEO of Africa Albida Tourism, said: “The intention by the authorities to review our visa regime is very positive, especially as they have increased engagement and consultation with the trade over the last 15 months.”

He added that Zimbabwe needed to offer a competitive advantage, “a high degree of ‘user friendliness’ as the result of softer and more efficient visa regulation is a good step towards this”. “We applaud the government’s current strategy and look forward to existing key source markets, as well as new target markets such as India, responding to this move. It can only result in the growth of the tourism industry.”