New visa regime raises unemployment fears

THE Economic Policy Research Association (EPRA) says the decision by the government to impose a visa regime on 37 tourist market countries will push up unemployment figures as the tourism industry loses numbers.

Cabinet slapped a visa regime on countries not reciprocating Namibia’s visa on arrival policy.

Tourism is the country’s top foreign currency earner.

EPRA management committee member Eben de Klerk called on the Namibian government to reconsider its decision and engage in a constructive dialogue with non-visa reciprocating countries.

“Namibia’s economy relies heavily on its (currently) thriving tourism sector, which is a major employer, foreign exchange earner and contributor to what little economic growth there is.

“The imposition of tourist visa requirements on many countries can have a severe negative impact on this vital sector, as it may deter potential visitors from the affected countries and could lead to a significant decrease in tourist arrivals,” he says.

De Klerk says many of the targeted countries have been key source markets of Namibia’s tourism sector.

“This move will only serve to alienate them and drive them to other (more visa-friendly) destinations. Some of our regional partners, like Botswana and South Africa, will have fewer visa restrictions,” he says, adding that by introducing unnecessary obstacles, Namibia makes itself less attractive, regionally and globally.

De Klerk says EPRA strongly urges the government to adopt “an evidence-based approach when it comes to policy formulation and implementation, rather than recycling half-truths and disinformation for political expediency”, which he says can only lead to economic ruin.

According to EPRA, among 500 Namibian businesses, 91% believe the proposed visa restrictions will harm the tourism industry, 87% believe that the proposed visa restrictions will harm the economy in general and 80% believe the proposed visa requirements will increase unemployment.
Please credit: Gondwana Collection

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