Malawi Tourism Council (MTC) has asked government to embrace a more resilient economic recovery plan to withstand the effects of Covid-19 on various sectors particularly tourism by adapting to more visa openness reforms.
MTC chairperson Johns Malili said this in the context of the 2020 Visa Openness Index which has ranked Malawi among countries making progress in opening up to all African citizens and offering liberal access to the citizens.
He said Malawi has the opportunity to move further up on the index and grow its seven percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and six percent on employment contribution in the next couple of years with flexible visa openness policies as they encourage business, innovation and investments opportunities.
Said Malili: “Flexible visa openness policies are critical for any country as they help in scaling up of regional as well as local business ventures at the same time helps up in building of economies of scale.”
He said Malawi should further consider adopting multi-year visas, especially to frequent travelers as well as high net worth investors in tourism sector.
“Malawi also needs to work with neighboring economies to consider formulating Uni-Visa system where tourists and travelers are encouraged to travel amongst a number of countries using one Visa. This makes the tourism products and packages more affordable and attractive,” Malili said.
In 2019, Malawi introduced the e-visa and reduced visa fees from $75 to $50, a development Malili argues could be the main contributing factor that may have helped Malawi to attain the current status.
According to the report, in line with global trends more African countries now including Malawi have adopted visa on arrival policies for Africans which is lowering the administrative burden for travelers.
According to Index Malawi does not require visas from 15 African countries as well as from Sadc and Comesa member states as long as they do not require visas from citizens of Malawi.
The report, whose data is compiled by the African Development Bank (AfDB) ranks Malawi on position 25 out of 44 and among countries championing good policies and reforms on visas.