By Mpho Tebele
Gaborone- Botswana has become the latest country in the continent to announce plans to start offering tourist visas on arrival.
The announcement was made by President Mokgweetsi Masisi when addressing the 45th meeting of the High-Level Consultative Council (HLCC) in Gaborone recently.
According to Masisi, this is part of the Botswana Government’s efforts to improve the ease of doing business in the country. He added that Botswana will offer tourist visa at the point of entry effective 24 November 2018.
Botswana joins Ethiopia, which has since announced its intention to implement visa-on-arrival service for African travellers.
Reports indicate that while the African Union (AU) set a 2018 deadline for the removal of visa requirements for all African citizens in all African countries, a recent AU report found that Africans can travel without a visa to just 22% of other African countries.
Rwanda, Benin and recently Ethiopia, are some of the African nations that relaxed visa requirements for all African citizens this year.
The voice of the private sector, Business Botswana commended Masisi’s administration, saying this will improve the ease of doing business in Botswana.
On its Twitter page, Business Botswana said tourists who have been reluctant to visit the southern African country due to stringent immigration laws. Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry responsible for Tourism Thabang Botshoma confirmed that Masisi has given the Ministry of Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs a grace period until November 24, 2018, to amend the immigration rules and procedures to accommodate the visa-on-arrival process.
Botshoma also expressed excitement, saying the development will result in Botswana becoming the latest African nation to relax visa requirements in a bid to improve tourism and the ease of doing business in the country.
Botswana’s Nationality, Immigration and Gender Affairs Minister, Dorcus Makgatho, was also quoted as saying that her ministry has indeed been instructed to amend the immigration regulation.
She was further quoted as saying that her ministry is busy amending some rules and procedures regarding the inflow of visitors into the country.
Makgato reportedly said it has been strenuous for tourists, wishing to visit the southern African nation which is endowed with flora and fauna as well as an avalanche of business opportunities, from the countries required to apply for a visa first.
She also told Xinhua news agency that tourists were expected to apply for a visa at Botswana’s embassy in their native countries or a country closer to them. And the process would take not less than 14 days to be approved or disapproved, said Makgato.
Chinese Ambassador to Botswana, Dr Zhao Yambo, recently expressed concern that while Botswana has been named as one of the most attractive tourism destinations it has exploited this opportunity to its full potential.
Giving a public lecture at the University of Botswana, Yambo said there is a need for tour operators in Botswana to venture into tourism activities that would attract more than 100 million Chinese tourists that travel across the world.