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Speaking at the launch of the first phase of the visa on arrival project at the Hosea Kutako International Airport, the Minister of Home Affairs and Immigration, Hon. Frans Kapofi, said this project is government’s commitment to improve Namibia’s global competitive ratings and progress towards liberalising its visa policy framework.
“The ministry, in consultation with relevant government stakeholders and other non-governmental actors will therefore continue to spearhead efforts to support the tourism and economic development of the country, without compromising its integrity and security”, he said.
Speaking candidly about Namibia’s global ranking, Hon. Kapofi stated that the 2019 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index by the World Economic Forum shows Namibia is ranked 81st out of 140 countries. In terms of accessibility in Africa, Namibia was 38th out of 55 countries in 2018, he says.
According to the minister, 47 countries, of which 27 are African have been selected to pilot the first phase of the project. These countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cape Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Comoros, Ivory Coast, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Liberia, Madagascar, Mauritania, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Sierra Leone, Togo, Tunisia, Western Sahara and Uganda.
From outside Africa, citizens of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cambodia, Chile, Czech Republic, Hungary, Mexico, Moldova, Nicaragua, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, South Korea, Venezuela, Vietnam, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Ukraine will also now find it easier to visit Namibia.
“Namibia exempted over 60 countries from visa requirements when their citizens are to visit Namibia for tourism purposes. This time, 47 countries were selected for visa on arrival”. According to the minister, the visa on arrival will benefit bona fide tourists (except tour guides), potential investors coming to explore business opportunities, visitors coming to attend meetings, seminars, workshops (excluding those coming to perform pay-related jobs), friendships and family-related as well as medical-related visits.
He stressed that the arrangement excludes people coming to Namibia for employment purposes as this obligates them to apply and acquire employment permits in advance. All three categories of passports; ordinary, diplomatic and official passports are accommodated for purposes of issuing a visa on arrival.
Earlier this year, the high-level advisory panel on the economic commission instructed visas to be applied on arrival in Namibia. The project, which is being tested at the international airport, will later be expanded to Walvis Bay Airport in October 2019, followed by the Katima Mulilo Border Post by end of November 2019. The border posts at Noordoewer, Ariamsvlei, Oshikango, Buitepos and Oranjemund will follow suit in the first quarter of 2020.
Speaking at the same event, Presidential Advisor Ms. Penny Akwenye, said its important to institute policies which allows Namibia to offer a wholesome travel experience. She also called on immigration officials, police and customs officials to change their mindset. “Today is the beginning of change. We are changing the airport, so our attitudes need to change as well”.