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Malawi, Zambia seek single tourist visa

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Malawi and Zambia have proposed that tourists should use one visa obtained from either country which can permit them to enter both countries regardless of where the visa was obtained.

Even though the two countries share boundaries in some tourist attraction areas like Kasungu and Nyika National Parks, a tourist visiting either country cannot cross to the other side without obtaining another visa.

Additionally, suspected criminals like poachers could not be pursued further once they crossed into either country because game rangers from one country were not allowed to enter the other without permission.

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But following different agreements which Malawi’s Minister of Natural Resources, Energy and Mining Bright Msaka reached with Zambia’s Minister of Tourism and Arts Jean Kapata in Lilongwe on Saturday, the barriers have been removed.

The high-level meeting between the two ministers was the first since President Peter Mutharika and his Zambian counterpart Edgar Lungu signed the Malawi-Zambia Trans- Frontier Conservation Areas (TFCA) Treaty at Sanjika Palace on 7 July last year.

In an interview after the meeting, Kapata said she saw the single visa proposal as an important aspect in the promotion of tourism in the two countries.

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“It is a proposal and we expect that relevant experts will discuss how best it can be implemented. We are going to sell our countries as one destination in terms of tourism products that are available in both Malawi and Zambia.

“The benefit of the single visa is that it will be cheaper for the tourists while they will spend money in both countries,” said Kapata.

Msaka conquered with the Zambian minister, saying once the single visa proposal comes to fruition, a tourist will be allowed to enter both countries using one visa without anyone asking where they are coming from.

“On top of that, it terms of protecting the conservation areas, the two countries will work as one. We are also going to make sure that officers from Zambia and Malawi can cross into the other country in law enforcement,” he said.

In a joint communiqué that they released after the meeting, the two ministers state that they are satisfied with the progress in the development of the treaty under the Nyika TFCA project funded by GEF/ World Bank, the Norwegian Government and the Peace Parks Foundation.

“We agree that in order to give impetus to the development of the Malawi-Zambia TFCA, we, the ministers responsible for Natural Resources, Energy and Mining from Malawi and Tourism and Arts from Zambia, commit to meet at least twice a year to review progress on the development of the [treaty],” concludes the communiqué.

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