Saturday, June 15, 2024

Visa on arrival: a long awaited tourism revolution

Hints coming from the government side are that Botswana will soo introduce a visa on arrival policy.

If that becomes a policy this will mean that means that people visiting Botswana will not have to make applications before arriving, which is time consuming and terribly inconvenient.

This is pretty much what President Mokgweetsi Masisi said at the recent High Level Consultative Conference meeting.

As a newspaper we have argued before and on numerous occasions that our Immigration Policy was holding us back as a nation.

As a small population we have no reason to keep away people who want to come here to spend their money.

In the same way it defeats our developmental goals to deny entry to people who have the kind of skills that the industries we are trying to build needs.

Even more unpardonable is to delay with tedious processes, people who have money to invest in our country, when we know we do not have such money. And also given high employment levels that can only be tackled by the private sector growth.

In the recent past this country was run, by securocrats, who found every security reason to stop people from entering Botswana.

To put all this into context, there is absolutely no reason why travelling between Angola and Botswana should require a visa. The same applies to a few other SADC countries.

Even more appalling and counter-productive have been the stringent demands that Botswana Government placed on Chinese citizens wished to enter this country ÔÇô for business or for pleasure.

China has more than a billion people. That size of country’s middle class has also stripped many of the developed world.

Chinese people have some of the biggest disposable income, making them by far the biggest travelers across the world.

Botswana is by no means among their desirable top destinations.

We have to woo them here. It is in our interest as a country.

They have a lot of other better options to visit which means they are not going to waste time on a country that shows such a blatant reluctance to welcome them such as ours.

Thus facilitating their arrival instead of thwarting it should be our primary goal.

Where security is a concern, there is always room for exemptions.

The point here is that exemptions should be used sparingly and for genuine and specific reasons to avoid them defeating what we are trying to achieve.

We must move apace. Neither time nor competitiveness are on our side.

The distance between the Chobe and Victoria Falls is only an hour’s drive. Yet it has been a source of shame to see Chinese tourists thronging the Victoria Falls on the side of Zimbabwe but unable to cross into the Botswana side where ample tourist opportunities awaited them, simply because of artificial barriers created by the country’s Immigration Policy that made it immensely difficult for people willing to spend their money here to come through.

Rwanda ÔÇô Africa’s success story that has come from the ashes of genocide only two decades ago has long seen the wisdom of issuing visas on arrival.

What Rwanda has experienced in twenty years in nothing short of a revolution.

Botswana might be following closely on Rwanda’s footsteps

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