Malawi Tourism Council (MTC), the official mouthpiece and umbrella body of all the associations in the tourism industry in the country says it is deeply concerned with the delay from government on releasing information regarding the new visa regime implementation for Malawi scheduled for October 1.
In a statement the MTC chairperson Florentine Kabefu and executive director Rosebill Satha-Sambo say while the MTC recognizes and appreciates government needs to implement this new visa regime it is disturbing that two months on, there are still a number of technical issues that have not been resolved.
They say only three weeks remaining before the new visa regime is rolled out no relevant information has not been made available.
“Visitors are being asked to get a visa prior to their arrival. Failure to do so will result in a penalty charge, yet our High Commissions abroad have received no information on what the process will be. Conflicting communication is causing confusion – the Malawi High Commission in the UK will be charging GBP 95 to process a visa, Berlin will be charging EUR 75 and a circular sent out by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs states that visas are US$ 75,” reads the statement in part.
The statement also adds that there is no separate price given for what minors will be charged and that there is no indication that an e-visa application process is in place or will be introduced.
“Our airports currently do not have the capacity to issue individual visas to visitors on arrival. This was clearly evident on 13th August, 2015, the day they first attempted to implement a charge for visas – visitors disembarking from long-haul flights stood in queues for up to 3 ½ hours.”
The statement says the development will likely lead to reduced number of tourists visiting Malawi.
“MTC Members have been sending names of tourists who have already committed to coming to Malawi and have paid deposits. There are over 350 of them. Most of these clients are now refusing to finalize payments as they are not sure as to whether they will be able to indeed get on a flight as Airlines require you to have a visa for each of the country on your itinerary if such a requirement exists.”
The statement says the money that is currently being expected is a combined total of approximately US$ 1.2 million.
“This is revenue that the private sector stands to lose, 16.5% (US$ 198,000) of which government can also expect to lose due to lack of action on this matter. Last week, two of our members lost close to US$ 13, 000 as clients decided to not include Malawi in their travels.”