Namibia urged to reconsider visa regime

The Southern African Development Community Business Council Tourism Alliance has encouraged Namibia to reconsider a proposed restrictive visa regime.

The alliance says this could “severely hamper” the country’s tourism and economic growth.

This was announced by the alliance’s project leader, Natalia Rosa.

She warned that Namibia risks falling behind its regional peers and losing its competitive edge as a tourist destination if it adopts a more restrictive approach.

“We urge the Namibian government to reconsider these restrictive measures and engage in dialogue with stakeholders to find solutions that balance security concerns with the need for economic growth and regional competitiveness,” Rosa said.

She said aligning visa policies with the air access strategy is essential in maximising the benefits of increased flight options and attracting a larger influx of travellers.

“Namibia could look to successful examples like Rwanda, which has seen significant growth in its meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions tourism sector due to visa liberalisation and investment in infrastructure.”

Instead of tightening visa restrictions, Namibia could explore alternative solutions, such as implementing more efficient visa processing systems, targeted visa waivers for specific groups, or enhanced security measures at borders, she said.

Rosa further advised that all barriers to entry for international visitors be critically examined and addressed to encourage longer stays, increase spending in the economy, and accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector.

“This policy shift appears to contradict the Namibia Airports Company’s recently launched air access strategy, ‘Air Connect Namibia’, aimed at increasing international flights and connectivity.

“The implementation of stricter visa requirements could have a detrimental impact on various sectors of Namibia’s economy, including tourism, hospitality, transportation, and retail, all of which rely heavily on international visitors,” she said.

Rosa said a more open visa policy attracts a diverse range of visitors, including business travellers, investors, and tourists, who contribute to the economy through spending, job creation, and tax revenue.

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