The Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) has called on SADC countries to work towards the free movement of tourists within the region through the introduction of a uni-visa system as well as a tourism satellite accounting system.
After the realisation that the SADC region is faced with a number of bottlenecks such as lack of free movement of tourists from one country to another due to colonial boundaries with some states demanding visas, the RETOSA Chairperson, who is also Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr Sylvester Maunganidze said the regional body has started lobbying SADC to relax the visa regime.
â€œWe are lobbying SADC to relax the visa regime. This is anticipated to result in a uni-visa which will allow tourists to access all SADC countries and travel throughout the region,â€ said Dr Maunganidze.
He added that RETOSA has called for SADC to meet so as to iron out such unnecessary restrictions.
Dr Maunganidze, who had a meeting with SADC chairperson, Namibian President, Hifikepunye Pohamba said of concern is that RETOSA has not yet received diplomatic status with some of its workers finding it difficult to get work permits despite their immunities and privileges which should come with working for a SADC affiliated institution.
Statistics show that SADC last year registered 75% of its tourism from within the region and 25% from the international community hence the need for the region to put more emphasis on regional and domestic tourism.
RETOSA was created in 1999 after the realisation that tourism has become important in economic recovery in most African countries.
The institution is highly linked to SADC and is funded by Heads of State of member countries.