Players in the tourism industry say the downward adjustment of a single-entry visa fees will encourage more tourists to visit Malawi.
This follows the Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services reduction of single-entry visa fees from $75 (about K56 250) to $50 (about K37 500) while maintaining transit fees at $50, six months multiple entry visa fees at $150 (K112 500) and multiple-entry visa fees for 12 months at $250 (K187 500).
In October 2015, Malawi Government introduced the $75 (about K55 000) single-entry visa fee, a measure applied to citizens of all countries that require Malawians to pay visa fees.
Malawi Tourism Council (MTC) board chairperson Tim Van Der Linden said in a written response on Friday that since then, the council has been advocating for reduced visa fees to ensure the country becomes competitive in the region.
He explained that with the new visa costs, Malawi is on the same level as neighbouring countries.
Said: “When the visa fees got introduced [in 2015] we got a lot of complaints from operators in the private sector. Tourists compare visa fees between countries and what the country has to offer to them.
“By reducing the visa fees to $50, we are on the same line as Zambia, which is in the eyes of MTC a fair result. The reduced visa fees will attract more tourists into Malawi and make it more affordable to include Malawi in their potential round trip access to southern Africa.”
Linden hailed the collaboration between MTC and the Department of Tourism, adding that this is a good start for 2020.
Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services director general Masauko Medi, in a letter dated January 9 2020, directed all border stations, district immigration offices and all international airports to adhere to the new fees.
Reads in part the letter: “Following a government gazette dated 27 December 2019, in which the fourth schedule was repealed, all visa issuing centres are advised to charge visa fees as indicated in the gazette. Your usual cooperation in the matter is highly requested.”
Department of Tourism director Isaac Katopola welcomed the new fees, saying they have been complaining and lobbying that single-entry visa fees be adjusted to make the country more competitive in terms of packaging.
“We have also taken note of the introduction of online visa, which if implemented effectively, will improve access to Malawi,” he said. According to 2017 official tourism statistics, 835 000 international tourists visited Malawi out of which 22 percent of the tourists visited Malawi for purposes of leisure, 68 percent for business, conferences and meetings, with the rest visiting friends and relatives, among others reasons.