Pretoria – The Department of Home Affairs says negotiations for the introduction of the mooted SADC Uni-visa are at an advanced stage.
While more information was not immediately available, Home Affairs spokesperson Mayihlome Tshwete on Friday confirmed that negotiations were well underway.
“At this stage, we cannot tell when [the Uni-visa] is going to be introduced,” said Tshwete.
The idea is for the Uni-visa to apply to incoming international tourists. However, concerns have been raised that most tourists would choose Johannesburg as their point of entry.
The single visa would allow entry into countries in the 15-member regional bloc, which includes Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The introduction of such a visa for the region would facilitate the smooth entry and travel of regional and international visitors, especially within trans-frontier conservation areas, and add an estimated 3% – 5% to annual growth.
Revenue share would have to be worked out carefully since tourism visas are an important source of income for many of the SADC countries.
Progress on UNI-Visa
In November 2014, Zimbabwe and Zambia officially launch a Kavango-Zambezi Trans-frontier Conservation Area (Kaza) uni-visa in Victoria Falls.
This marked the first phase of a four-staged process that will eventually result in introduction of the SADC UNI-Visa.
At the time of the launch, Zimbabwe’s Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said the first phase will allow tourists from 40 countries around the world to access a 30-day visa that will give them access to Zimbabwe and Zambia.
Minister Mzembi said the visa costs US$50 and lasts up to 30 days as long the visitor remains in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It also covers day trips for those who visit from Botswana through the Kazungula.
The second phase, Minister Mzembi said, will see the Uni-Visa being extended to the other three Kaza countries, which are Angola, Botswana and Namibia.
In the last two stages, the visa will be extended outside Kaza and into the entire SADC region.
The SADC Uni-Visa was first mooted by regional heads of state in 1998.