The government of Zimbabwe has transformed the visa restrictions for Chinese nationals from group C to group B to ensure ease of travel for investors and tourists from the world’s second largest economy into the country.
The decision was as a result of the President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s inaugural state visit outside Africa on the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jingping.
The change in the visa regime classification for Chinese nationals means they get visas upon arrival at the country’s ports of entry.
Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Priscah Mupfumira who was part of the presidential delegation to China said they expected the development to improve tourist arrivals into the country from the Asian giant.
“The previous visa regime required Chinese nationals to apply and get a visa before travelling, now they will get those visas upon arrival. This is a welcome move and we will continue to make it easier for our Chinese friends so that our strategic turnaround with china is realised through tourism,” minister Mupfumira said.
Zimbabwe has recorded a decrease in tourist arrivals from China from an all high of 40 000 people to the current figures of 5 000 people.
Minister Mupfumira said it was sad that the country had failed to tap into the Chinese source market which had the world’s biggest outbound market. In 2016 the country recorded 4.4 billion domestic trips and over 135 million international departures.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation forecasts that over 200 million Chinese tourists to travel abroad in just a few years time.
Minister Mupfumira said her ministry was going to focus on promoting brand Zimbabwe in China.
“We have resolved as a ministry in conjunction with our marketing arm, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority that we will be focusing on China to market Zimbabwe as a preferred tourist and economic destination,” she added.
She also revealed that they signed a memorandum of understanding with Touch Roads, a Chinese company to develop, invest and market tourism on behalf of Zim