Five Southern African countries on Friday committed to expanding the use of a special common visa to allow easier movement of tourists as the region seeks to boost arrivals.

Officials from Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, countries that make up the Kavango-Zambezi (KAZA) Transfrontier Conservation Area, pledged in principle to broaden use of the special visa, called a univisa, which allows entry into multiple countries.

The univisa is currently used in Zambia and Zimbabwe and covers day trips to Botswana through Kazungula.

Regional leaders attending a KAZA heads of state summit in Livingstone, Zambia, said they want the special visa extended to other states in the conservation area as well as the southern African economic bloc.

“We must simply say that this will happen,” Zambian President Hakainde Hichilema said in his address. “I am grateful that my colleagues have reached consensus on the univisa.”

Flying to the UAE? Dubai, Abu Dhabi increase checks to prevent misuse of tourist visas

The increased vigilance follows incidents where passengers arriving on tourist visas lacked sufficient funds or return tickets, leading to deportations. Airlines are now required to verify that solo travellers, especially women aged 20-35, comply with these rules to avoid having to return deported passengers at their own expense.

Botswana Vice President Slumber Tsogwane said his country would fully adopt the univisa. KAZA member states also resolved to urge the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) to lift a ban on the trade of elephants and ivory.

The 184-member inter-governmental CITES regulates wildlife trade to protect certain species from over-exploitation. It banned trade in African elephant ivory in 1989 after the animal’s population had declined sharply in the previous decade.

KAZA states say they hold USD 1 billion worth of ivory stockpiles, which they want to trade to fund conservation programmes.

  • Published On Jun 1, 2024 at 02:57 PM IST

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