Sylvia Masebo MP (Tourism Minister) recently signalled that Government may soon abolish Visa fees for "tourists" visiting Zambia. The proposal will be tabled before Cabinet, following appeals by some Lodge owners in who are complaining that visits to Zambia have been dwindling due to "prohibitive tourist visa fees currently set at US$50 per person". She has promised to consult widely before taking the matter to cabinet for possible consideration.
The proposal will need to be much clearer. Is it no visa fees or no visas period? Logic demands that she much mean the latter because having a visa regime that does not recover costs would be costly to maintain. Presumably part of the visa fees goings towards administration and processing costs. But then again, abolishing visas to Zambia will have other implications. There's the question of losing the "security benefits" of a Visa regime. How much consideration will be given to that?
The obvious question of course is the extent to which the visa costs impacts on demand for tourism. Where is the evidence on this? Just how elasticity is international tourism demand to Zambia? Are the Lodge owners really correct that a US$50 waive will boost demand? It seems to me that what is important is having a common SADC Schengen system that is underpinned by a clear software system. Where individuals can be tracked across borders but would pretty much move freely.
This of course is not the first time these ideas have been proposed.[view whole blog post ]