Zimbabwe improves UNWTO Visa Openness ranking


Minister of Tourism Walter Mzembi

ZIMBABWE has been ranked number 29 out of 54 countries that have made significant improvements on visa restrictions in order to facilitate tourist movements from the source market.

According to the 2015 United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Visa Openness Report, the country implemented a total of 117 reforms measures that facilitated tourists’ arrivals.

The visa openness report 2015 annual report prepared by UNWTO continues the analysis of visa policies and the progress made in visa facilitation over the past seven years, supporting destinations with evidence-based policy making and helping to prioritize activities within their facilitation policies.

According to the report, a total 54 destinations significantly facilitated travel for citizens of 30 or more countries by changing their visa policies from visa required to eVisa, visa on arrival, or no visa required.

The 54 destinations took a total of 6357 individual measures, while other destinations had 1064, resulting in a change of 1021 for the period between 2010 and 2015.

The report says in 2015, destinations around the world still required on average approximately two thirds of the world’s population to obtain a traditional visa prior to departure.

On other hand some 18% of the world’s population is able to enter a destination without a visa, while another 15% can receive a visa on arrival and 6% is able to obtain eVisas.

UNWTO has been long advocating for the need to advance travel facilitation as a means to promote tourism development and multiply its socio-economic benefits.

According to the report, the share of tourists requiring to obtain a visa prior to travelling continues to decline and is at its lowest level ever.

In 2015, 39% of the world population could travel for tourism without obtaining a traditional visa prior to departure as compared to only 23% in 2008.

On average, 18% of the world’s population was able to travel to a destination without a visa in 2015, while another 15% could receive a visa on arrival and 6% was able to obtain eVisas.

Overall, emerging economies continue to be more open than advanced economies while at the regional level, South-East Asia, East Africa, the Caribbean and Oceania remain the most open areas while Central Africa, North Africa and North America were in 2015 the most restrictive sub regions.

UNWTO Secretary-General, Taleb Rifai said prioritizing travel facilitation is central to stimulating economic growth and job creation through tourism.

“We are pleased to see that a growing number of governments around the world think likewise. “The current security challenges should not deter us from advancing visa facilitation,” he said.

Rifai said although much has bene done, several areas of opportunity remain for destinations worldwide to promote a safer and more seamless travel experience.

“UNWTO recommends destinations to focus in particular in a stronger segmentation of travelers, in improving visa application processes and entry procedures, in making use of regional integration opportunities, and last but not least, on providing precise and accessible information for tourist,” he said.

He said further encouraged countries not to depend on reciprocal improvements, but rather revise their unilateral measures, a tendency which is proving to be stronger than ever. – Finx Zimbabwe

Follow us on Twitter on @FingazLive and on Facebook – The Financial Gazette