Africa is challenged to follow suit if the continent wants a bigger share of world tourism


(Posted 30th January 2017)

UNWTO has expressed its full support to the decision of the Government of Belarus to launch the 5-day visa-free policy that will be applicable to travelers from 80 countries. The measure aims at advancing seamless travel and attracting visitors, particularly those on business trips.

The Government of Belarus has recently decided to advance visa facilitation as a means to stimulate tourism development. The decision introduces visa-free entry at the Minsk National Airport and visa-free stay in Belarus for up to five days for the citizens of 80 states. Among those, there are 39 countries of Europe, including the entire European Union, Brazil, Indonesia, the USA and Japan.

Visa facilitation is among the most effective strategies to induce tourism development in a region or in a country, so we are sure that the tourism sector will experience a positive shift in Belarus‘ said UNWTO Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai.

The promotion of seamless travel is one of UNWTO’s priorities, considering the proven capacity of visa facilitation to stimulate economic growth and job creation through tourism.

Belarus started policies to simplify the visa process in April 2016.

In Africa it is only the Seychelles which requires no Visa from any of the world’s nationalities while Rwanda grants Visa on arrival to all African Union citizens but by and large is the continent riddled with red tape.

Even periodic hickups happen with the Interstate Pass travel between Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya, showing that a Visa free regime would be preferable.

Africa only attracted some 58 million visitors in 2016 compared to nearly 1.2 billion travelers around the world, a clear indicator that if the continent is really keen to boost visitor numbers to 100 million and more, Visa regimes have to change. Intra African travel is among the most difficult in the world as red tape puts off many potential travelers from Africa for Africa, who then divert to Gulf destinations where they are welcome with easy Visa to spend their money there.

Useful links:

UNWTO work on visa facilitation

UNWTO Visa Openness Report

List of 80 states