Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism is working on the formalities for the Malawi, Zambia joint visa or univisa that would ensure that international tourists visit both countries without hassles, an official has said.
With a Univisa, it means tourists visiting the two countries only need to obtain one visa.
Despite the two countries sharing boundaries in some tourist attraction areas such as Kasungu and Nyika national parks, a tourist visiting either country cannot cross to the other side without obtaining another visa.
In an interview yesterday, director of tourism in the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism Isaac Katopola confirmed that the two countries are still working on the framework for the joint cooperation.
“We are yet to sign the memorandum of understanding on cooperation on tourism.
“After the memorandum, we will look at the issues of movement of people within the two countries, but this will have to involve the Immigration Department as well as Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” he said.
Katopola said the process is a bit complex and he could not commit as to when they may sign the agreement.
In April last year, Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka and Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata proposed a single tourist visa to remove barriers in the tourism sector between the two countries.
This followed the signing of Malawi-Zambia Trans- Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) Treaty between President Peter Mutharika and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu at Sanjika Palace on July 7 2015.
In July last year, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Tourism disclosed that it will be signing a joint visa with Zambia immediately after the Zambian polls in August, a deal which is yet to materialise.
Kapata is on record as having said that she saw the single visa proposal as an important aspect in the promotion of tourism in the two countries.
“It is a proposal and we expect that relevant experts will discuss how best it can be implemented. We are going to sell our countries as one destination in terms of tourism products that are available in both Malawi and Zambia.
“The benefit of the single visa is that it will be cheaper for the tourists while they will spend money in both countries,” she said.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) chief operating officer Chimwemwe Luhanga has hailed the initiative, saying it would help to boost investments and create more economic opportunities for the private sector.
“This is a great move and we hope to see the sector growing while we [private sector] also make use of the available opportunities that come along with increased tourists,” he said.
Government expects to see tourism contribution to gross domestic product (GDP) jump by seven percent to K230 billion (about $331 million) this year.
Last year, the sector brought in K105 billion (about $151 million) to the economy.