Tourism

Univisa reinstated

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The Kaza Univisa, a common visa between Zambia and Zimbabwe, was introduced in 2014, only to be scrapped the next year. However, it has now been reinstated.

The Visa cost stays at 50 USD. Nationals of just 40 countries are eligible for the visa, these are mostly western countries. Nationals of most neighboring countries, on the other hand, can visit these countries visa-free.

Univisa will be valid for 30 days and allows multiple crossings between the two countries (limited by passport pages as it gets stamped at every crossing!). If re-entering from a third country, a new visa has to be obtained, even if the previous visa is still valid. The only exception is a day trip to Botswana (most likely a safari to Chobe National Park).

The visa can be obtained on arrival at these airports:  Lusaka, Livingstone, Victoria Falls and Harare. It is also issued at the two Kazungula border posts bordering Botswana with Zambia and Zimbabwe, respectively. Unfortunately, those arriving by land from other countries, like South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Malawi or Tanzania still cannot obtain the visa.

 

Tanzania tax increases hit tourists hard

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Tanzania has recently introduced an 18% Value-added tax (VAT) on tourism services , including ground transportation, tour guides, parks fees and camping fees. Hotel fees are not affected, as these are already subject to VAT.

Tour operators and other tourism stakeholders have appealed the government to repeal the tax, so far to deaf ears. Both Kenya and Zimbabwe issued new taxes on tourism recently, only to scrap them after realizing how badly these affects tourism. Thanks to internet, tourists today are more price-sensitive than ever, and will easily change their destination in favour of a cheaper option. Kenya’s recovering tourism will certainly benefit of new taxes in their southern neighbor.

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Visiting Kenya to become cheaper

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Kenya tourism industry has been hit hard last couple of years due to security fears following a series of terrorist attacks. The situation has improved since, and UK and US have lifted most of their travel warnings to Kenya. Recent high profile visits by Barack Obama and the Pope have further helped in restoring confidence in Kenya as a safe destination. To boost renewed interest in Kenyan tourism, the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced lower National Park fees, and waiving of visa fees for visitors under 16.

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Make your travel safe, essential tips

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This article provides some recommendations how to stay safe while travelling. These tips are useful regardless of the destination, but especially when travelling to those countries where security risks are the most.

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Western countries lead the World Economic Forum’s tourism ranking

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The World Economic Forum has published the 2015 edition of its  biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness report. The ranking is dominated by western countries, the top three positions are taken by Spain, France and Germany. The best African country is South Africa, 48th, thus just making the top-50. Seychelles, Mauritius and Namibia are the only other African countries reaching the upper half of the table (TOP 70). Instead, the bottom 25 has 19 African countries, and that includes Ethiopia, Malawi and Mozambique that are actually fairly popular with tourists. The last place (141) is taken by Chad.

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World Tourism Organization 2014 stats – small growth in Africa

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World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) has recently published the 2014 statistics on international tourism. These are summarised on the UNWTO Tourism Highlights (2015 edition) publication. Globally tourism has been growing almost uninterrupted since the 1950’s. Europe accounts still about half of all international tourist arrivals, but emerging regions, especially Asia-Pacific but also Middle East and Africa have seen stronger growth in the last 30 years. Asia-Pacific region has now overtaken the Americas as the second most popular region. Despite the growth since 1980’s, Africa remains a minor player in world tourism, with 2014 being a year of a slow growth, not least due to Ebola outbreak.
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More unwelcome visa news – Uganda and Malawi fee hikes

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UPDATE, July 30, 2016: The cost of Uganda single-entry visa has been reduced back to 50 USD, so the double price was a short experiment ending in a foreseeable failure.  For Malawi, the current visa fees appear to be 75 USD for a 3-month-visa, or 50 USD for transit visa valid for seven days.

Just as Kenya stops issuing visa on arrival, two other African countries punish tourists by significantly increasing visa fees. Reports say that the cost of Ugandan single entry visa has been doubled from 50 to 100 USD, while the Malawi visa is or will be increased to 75 USD, while previously visa-exempt nationalities have to pay for a visa.

Western tourists are used to visit most countries of interest without having to pay for a visa, but just few of those countries are in Africa. Recent fee hikes further highlight the divide. Majority of potential tourists shun Africa due to numerous image problems the continent has, and new visa rules will not improve situation.

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Kenya introduces online visa application, visa on arrival to be scrapped

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Starting from July 1st, 2015 Kenya introduced e-visa, meaning the Kenyan visa will be applied online from now on. Visa on arrival will be available until August 30, 2015, but thereafter every visitor to Kenya must have obtained the e-visa (save those from visa-exempt countries). Visa will be applied through the Kenya E-Citizen portal. Visa application process should take at least two days and up to a week. A visitor may be denied boarding a plane if he/she fails to provide a proof of a granted visa. Thus booking a trip to Kenya on a short notice will be difficult or impossible, as a consequence Kenya will lose potential tourists.

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UniVisa – visit Zambia and Zimbabwe on one visa

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UPDATE JANUARY 2016: UniVisa no longer issued

UPDATE JANUARY 2017: Univisa issued again

A tourist on African tour will have to obtain visas to many countries visited, which will be a costly and time-consuming affair. To somewhat alleviate this problem, new cross-border visas have emerged. Recently I wrote a blog post on the East African Tourist Visa (covering Kenya Uganda and Rwanda), There is also UniVisa between Zimbabwe and Zambia (also known as Kaza Visa), which was launched in late 2014. UniVisa will be valid for 30 days and allows multiple entries between these two countries. Only certain nationals are eligible for Univisa (listed here). UniVisa is especially handy for visitors going to Victoria Falls, as travellers can now easily cross the border without having to pay for two separate visas. However, the visa is still not available from most border posts and some international airports.

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UK travel advise to Kenyan coast partially lifted

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The government of United Kindgdom has now partially lifted its advise against non-essential travel to the Kenyan coast. Tourist destinations including Lamu and Malindi are still under the advise  (Watamu resort just south of Malindi was left out), as are any areas close to the Somalian border, and Garissa, the town subject to a recent university attack. They also advise against visiting Eastleigh area in Nairobi, but no tourist is likely to go there anyway.

Prior to the latest ruling, Mombasa town and the coast strip north of it were included in the advise against non-essential travelling. The United States has similarly issued a travel warning on Kenya. This warnings have prompted much criticism by the Kenyan government blaming them for the downfall in tourism, not only to coastal Kenya but to the country as a whole.

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