BY CALISTUS BOSALETSWE
Botswana is warming up to a single tourism visa known as Kavango Zambezi Tranfrotreir Conservation Area (KAZA TFCA) UNIVISA after the country refused to endorse it in the past citing issues of security.
Other SADC member states environment and tourism minister’s who are part of (KAZA-TFCA) have hailed Botswana for considering co-operating with other SADC states at last.
Botswana had in the past rejected the idea of UNIVISA which helps tourists to sample tourism packages in five member states such as Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The ululations come after there was acrimony among the KAZA TFCA during President Ian Khama’s era where KAZA TFCA member states were accusing Botswana for working in isolation.
Botswana unwillingness to endorse the UNIVISA is believed to be against the SADC Protocol on Development of Tourism that was signed by SADC leadership in 1998. Through the protocol SADC member states committed to make the travel of visitors as smooth as possible, and remove practices that are likely to place obstacles in the way of regional and international travel and tourism.
Other Ministers from Namibia and Zambia pointed out that Botswana was welcome back after the country isolated itself from the rest of the KAZA partner states.
The single tourist visa is expected to ease the movement of tourists who want to experience tourism products from more than one country when visiting the region.
The Namibian Minister of Environment and Tourism Minister – Pohamba Shifeta noted at the just ended Kasane Elephant Summit that Botswana was welcome back after years of working in isolation.
Shifeta noted that Botswana decision to isolate itself in the past was not good for the development of tourism in KAZA-TFCA. He was hopeful that KAZA partner states will endorse a single visa to ease the movement of tourists in the five member states for the development of tourism in the region.
The Namibian President Hage Geingob also reiterated that the UNIVISA should also be extended to African who wants to travel. He indicated that Namibia was committed towards implementing KAZA UNIVISA which has been piloted in Zambia and Zimbabwe since 2014.
“I am on record, having stated that the free movement of people must be facilitated, especially to enable Africans who are travelling within Africa. I therefore reiterate the call for the easing of movement of people across our borders and affirm Namibia’s commitment to implementing the KAZA UNIVISA”, said Pohamba.