ZIM­BABWE

WOOS CHI­NESE TOURISTS WITH VISA RE­LAX­ATION

Nomad Africa Magazine - - Tourism Updates - Words: KERRY HAYES

The Zim­bab­wean gov­ern­ment will be re­lax­ing visa re­stric­tions for Chi­nese tourists en­ter­ing the coun­try as of July 1, in an ef­fort to boost in­bound tourism.

the new visa regime will see China mi­grat­ing from a Cat­e­gory C in Zim­babwe’s mi­gra­tion man­age­ment sys­tem, to a Cat­e­gory B – in ef­fect, mov­ing visa re­quire­ments from ‘prior to travel’, to re­quired only at port of en­try. Cat­e­gory A refers to coun­tries whose na­tion­als are ex­empt from visa re­quire­ments; Cat­e­gory B to those re­quired to ob­tain visas at the port of en­try (on ar­rival); and Cat­e­gory C to those re­quired to ap­ply for visas prior to travel. Zim­babwe’s Per­ma­nent Sec­re­tary of Tourism and Hospi­tal­ity, Thokozile Chitepo, says “the re­lax­ation is set to in­crease tourism ar­rivals, as many tourists can eas­ily ob­tain visas. It will also in­crease the con­ve­nience to the trav­el­ling pub­lic, es­pe­cially for those that will get visas at the port of en­try, as they will not have to go through a lengthy visa ap­pli­ca­tion process. In ad­di­tion, peo­ple can de­cide, at short no­tice, to visit Zim­babwe – par­tic­u­larly when al­ready vis­it­ing the re­gion. Sub­se­quently, that will lead to in­creased tourism re­ceipts and other ben­e­fits to the econ­omy”. CEO of the Zim­babwe Tourism Au­thor­ity (ZTA), Kari­goga Kaseke, con­curs. “Tourism thrives in a more open, ac­ces­si­ble and friendly en­vi­ron­ment, and the visa regime plays a piv­otal role in push­ing for tourism growth. Eas­ing the visa pol­icy for the Chi­nese mar­kets will make des­ti­na­tion Zim­babwe more com­pet­i­tive and at­trac­tive, es­pe­cially as it com­petes in the global mar­ket­place. The Chi­nese mar­ket is the world's fastest-growing source mar­ket, post­ing more than 135 mil­lion Chi­nese out­bound trav­ellers (2016), and top­ping the world's in­ter­na­tional tourism spend­ing on $258b (€222.6b) (UNWTO – 2017). From that, Zim­babwe only en­joys a frac­tion of fewer than 15 000 ar­rivals (2017). The re­lax­ation will re­sult in more travel from China, as cur­rently the visa process for the Chi­nese tourists was still con­di­tional (Cat­e­gory B) for tourists rec­om­mended by a tour op­er­a­tor. Now, there are no con­di­tions to the trav­el­ling tourists who now cover busi­ness, as they will all get visas at the port of en­try. Thus, the re­lax­ation presents an op­por­tu­nity not only to tourism growth, but other con­se­quent eco­nomic ben­e­fits that come with it”. Gavin Ren­nie, Director of lo­cal tour op­er­a­tor Of­f2Africa adds: “China is a mas­sive source

“Easy ac­cess to any des­ti­na­tion is a ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant to travel by tourists world­wide. Most des­ti­na­tions are even go­ing a step fur­ther by be­com­ing visa free, in or­der to in­crease tourists trav­el­ling to their des­ti­na­tions; hence this move by Zim­babwe is a step in the right direction to pro­mote in­creased travel from China and other coun­tries into Zim­babwe, in­creas­ing the coun­try’s des­ti­na­tion com­pet­i­tive­ness. It is also en­cour­ag­ing that this re­lax­ation is not only lim­ited to China, but [ex­tends] to 36 other coun­tries an­nounced, in­clud­ing Equa­to­rial Guinea, Iran, Al­ge­ria, Turkey and Cuba, among others.”

mar­ket for all lev­els of tourism, group and high­end FIT, that Zim­babwe can at­tract and ben­e­fit from. Zim­babwe has a num­ber of out­stand­ing tourist at­trac­tions like Vic­to­ria Falls, Great Zim­babwe and many won­der­ful na­tional parks that are abun­dant with wildlife, and a broad range of ac­com­mo­da­tion op­tions in each des­ti­na­tion to cater for the Chi­nese trav­eller.” The an­nounce­ment was made dur­ing a han­dover of fur­ni­ture and equip­ment to the De­part­ment of Im­mi­gra­tion and the Zim­babwe Repub­lic Po­lice in Harare re­cently. “Easy ac­cess to any des­ti­na­tion is a ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant to travel by tourists world­wide. Most des­ti­na­tions are even go­ing a step fur­ther by be­com­ing visa free, in or­der to in­crease tourists trav­el­ling to their des­ti­na­tions; hence this move by Zim­babwe is a step in the right direction to pro­mote in­creased travel from China and other coun­tries into Zim­babwe, in­creas­ing the coun­try’s des­ti­na­tion com­pet­i­tive­ness. It is also en­cour­ag­ing that this re­lax­ation is not only lim­ited to China, but [ex­tends] to 36 other coun­tries an­nounced, in­clud­ing Equa­to­rial Guinea, Iran, Al­ge­ria, Turkey and Cuba, among others,” says Kaseke. The change in the visa regime be­comes ef­fec­tive on July 1, “al­though it has al­ready been im­ple­mented on the busi­ness del­e­ga­tion that vis­ited Zim­babwe for the Zim­babwe-China In­vest­ment Fo­rum,” says Kaseke. “All were is­sued visas has­sle-free at the port of en­try. The fa­cil­ity is open for busi­ness and leisure trav­ellers.” Chi­nese Am­bas­sador to Zim­babwe, Huang Ping, said this de­ci­sion was made by the Cab­i­net and an­nounced by Pres­i­dent Em­mer­son Mnan­gagwa in his talks with his coun­ter­part, Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. “This is one of the sig­nif­i­cant out­comes of Pres­i­dent Mnan­gagwa’s state visit to China early this year,” said Ping. “This pol­icy, upon im­ple­men­ta­tion, will cer­tainly at­tract more Chi­nese tourists and in­vestors to Zim­babwe, in­ject­ing new im­pe­tus to its devel­op­ment. As more Chi­nese come, there will be a growing de­mand for bet­ter ser­vice and man­age­ment of them in terms of the visa, work­ing and res­i­dence per­mits and other se­cu­rity-re­lated is­sues aris­ing from there.” Ren­nie says: “Now that China has Cat­e­gory B status for visas, Zim­babwe is a far eas­ier des­ti­na­tion for Chi­nese to travel to. Fur­ther­more, air ac­cess from China to south­ern Africa is im­prov­ing all the time with new car­ri­ers con­nect­ing the two.” “Ac­cord­ing to the World Eco­nomic Fo­rum Com­pet­i­tive­ness re­ports, Zim­babwe is ranked num­ber one in the re­gion in terms of safety,” said Chitepo. “Your read­ers need to take ad­van­tage of this peace div­i­dend and send their tourists to Zim­babwe, as they will have mem­o­rable ex­pe­ri­ences,” she says. “This ap­plies to both leisure and busi­ness trav­ellers.” The Sec­re­tary con­cluded: “Fol­low­ing the com­ing in of the new dis­pen­sa­tion, my mes­sage is: Zim­babwe is open for busi­ness, in line with what our Pres­i­dent, His Ex­cel­lency Em­mer­son D. Mnan­gagwa has enun­ci­ated. I have been to most of the mar­ket­ing plat­forms, (FITUR – Spain, ITB – Ber­lin, Africa’s Travel Ind­aba – Dur­ban, We are Africa – Cape Town, and Arabian Travel Mar­ket, to men­tion a few), since I took of­fice in De­cem­ber 2017, and this has been my mes­sage to the travel industry. Zim­babwe is ready to re­ceive vis­i­tors, and we have put ev­ery­thing in place to en­sure that travel is fa­cil­i­tated. I am pleased to say that the re­sponse has been en­cour­ag­ing as we have wit­nessed a phe­nom­e­nal 48% growth in ar­rivals dur­ing the first quar­ter of 2018 com­pared to the same pe­riod in 2017. This is at­trib­ut­able to the fact that Zim­babwe is a safe and peace­ful des­ti­na­tion apart from be­ing ex­tremely at­trac­tive.”

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