Zambia ratifies the SADC protocol on free movement of persons

zambia zimbabwe border

THE Zambian Government has ratified the SADC protocol on free movement of persons in a bid to attract foreign tourists.

Tourism and Arts Minister Sylvia Masebo announced that the ratification came into effect on Tuesday.

Masebo made the announcement during the opening of a two day regional media training workshop on tourism and development in Lusaka.

She said the development means that Zambian citizens will not be subjected to VISA requirements when visiting any of the SADC countries that have equally ratified the SADC protocol on free movements of people.

“This practically means that Zambians would enjoy VISA free travel into any of the SADC countries that have ratified this protocol or at least be issued with a VISA at the point of entry. This is in the spirit of easing travel and consequently encouraging more foreign tourists,” Masebo said.

Masebo, who was flanked by Information and Broadcasting Deputy Minister Mwansa Kapeya, said the ratification of free movement had made SADC countries to become one when it comes to movement.

“That is an important step to boost the movements of people and tourists in the region. For instance, going to Malawi, South Africa and other SADC countries now will be just as easy as going to my Constituency in Chongwe without any restrictions, it is a very important issue for tourism to easy the movement of people as more tourists will flock to the country,” she said.

In Turkey, about 30 million tourists go that country and partly this is partly due to easy movement of people.

“As a country and continent, we must look at attracting more tourist arrivals and this can only be done by easing travels,” she said.

Masebo also expressed hope that the yellow fever requirement would soon be addressed before the UNWTO general assembly.

She further called for the promotion of domestic tourism and urged citizens across Africa to consider taking their families for holidays to appreciate tourism.

“Good and positive news about tourism in Africa rarely makes the news headlines and it is crucial that the media in Africa identify the importance of tourism to promote economic development in the region.

We need to heal the current negative perceptions in the international media on Africa where they always report on Africa as a continent with wars and poverty when we have more tourism attractions and minerals than most countries in overseas,” she said.

Speaking at the same function, UNWTO Deputy Regional Director for Africa Helder Thomas aid the growth of tourism globally was expected to continue this year.

“In the case off Africa, despite of different crises and challenges faced, the continent exceeded for the first time the 50 million tourists in 2012 reaching 52.3 million tourist arrivals

UNWTO forecasts Africa will receive 85 million tourists by 2020 and 134 million by 2030,” he said.

Thomas said the current share for Africa was five per cent of international tourist arrivals and it was projected that the figure would grow to six and seven per cent by 2020 and 2030 respectively.

He said tourism was directly responsible for five per cent of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and six per cent of global trade and employs one out of 11 people.

“We need to create a continued dialogue between the private sector and the media as the two key to supporting the growth of tourism,” he said.

The SADC Protocol on free movement of persons was adopted in 2005 and seeks to fulfill the objectives of the SADC Treaty.

The treaty requires SADC countries to develop policies aimed at the progressive elimination of obstacles to the free movement of capital and labor, goods and services and of the people of the region.