Namibia’s tighter visa rules would hamper tourism marketing efforts

By our African Marketing Confederation News Team | 2024

Tighter entry rules for visitors from 31 countries will harm travel industry’s ability to sell the country to international travellers – warning. 

Marketers of Namibian tourism products have expressed concern that a proposed new visa scheme could severely hamper the local tourism industry and restrict their ability to sell the country to international travellers. 

Photo by Roger Brown from Pexels 

They believe it is a backward step for tourism and economic growth at a time when many other African destinations are easing their visa requirements for foreign tourists. They also say the move would be counter to the clear benefits that countries like Zambia and Rwanda have enjoyed from visa liberalisation policies. 


In a recent public statement, the SADC Business Council Tourism Alliance warns that the policy shift appears to contradict the Namibia Airports Company’s new air-access strategy, ‘Air Connect Namibia’, aimed at increasing international flights and connectivity. 


SADC is the Southern African Development Community. Its 16 member states include Angola, Botswana, Eswatini, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa. 


“Evidence from across Africa, including success stories from Rwanda and Zambia, demonstrates that visa liberalisation significantly boosts tourism, foreign investment and overall economic growth,” the alliance says in its statement. 


“A more open visa policy attracts a diverse range of visitors, including business travellers, investors and tourists who contribute to the economy through spending, job creation, and tax revenue.” 


Will hinder many forms of travel 


According to Natalia Rosa, Project Lead for the alliance, a restrictive visa regime can negatively impact the entire tourism value chain. It hinders not only leisure travel, but also business travel, conferences, events, education, and trade. 


“Aligning visa policies with the air-access strategy is essential to maximise the benefits of increased flight options and attract a larger influx of travellers. Namibia could look to successful examples like Rwanda, which has seen significant growth in its MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) tourism sector due to visa liberalisation and investment in infrastructure,” she says. 


Namibia’s proposed new visa policy comes at a time when the SADC is preparing to pilot its Univisa, which will allow foreign tourists to move easily between member states, especially within the trans-frontier conservation areas, known as TFCAs. 


A snap survey by the Economic Policy Research Association, an independent think tank in Namibia, found that 87% of respondents believed visa restrictions will harm Namibia’s economy. 


According to the industry website Travel Agent Central, no official start date has been announced yet for the new restrictions. Nationals from the 31 countries will need to fill out an online visa application prior to travel, or be issued a visa upon arrival in Namibia at an applicable fee. 

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    Dr Kin Kariisa

    Group CEO - Next Media

    Dr. Kin Kariisa is an extraordinary force at the helm of Next Media Services, a conglomerate encompassing NBS TV, Nile Post, Sanyuka TV, Next Radio, Salam TV, Next Communication, Next Productions, and an array of other influential enterprises. His dynamic role as Chief Executive Officer exemplifies his unwavering commitment to shaping media, business, and community landscapes.
    With an esteemed academic journey, Dr. Kariisa’s accolades include an Honorary PhD in exemplary community service from the United Graduate College inTexas, an MBA from United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya, a Master’s degree in Computer Engineering from Huazong University in China, and a Bachelor’s degree in Statistics from Makerere University.
    Dr. Kariisa pursued PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radboud University in Nijmegen, Netherlands. As a dynamic educator, he has shared his expertise as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at both Makerere University and Radboud University.

    Dr Kin did his PhD research in Computer Security and Identity Management at Security of Systems Group, Radbond University in Nigmegen, Netherlands. He previously served as a lecturer of e-Government and Information Security at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda and Radbond University in Netherlands.

    Dr Kin did his postgraduate courses in Strategic Business Management, Strategic Leadership Communication and Strategies for Leading Successful Change Initiatives at Harvard University, Boston USA.

    • Other current and previous roles played by Dr Kin Kariisa:
    • Lecturer of e-Government and Information Security to graduate students at Makerere University, Kampala and Radbond University in the Netherlands
    • Director of Eco Bank Uganda Limited, one of the largest banks in Africa
    • Chairman of the National Association of Broadcasters, an umbrella industry association for all Television, Radio and online broadcasters in Uganda.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Nile Hotel International, that owns the leading hotel in Uganda, Kampala Serena Hotel.
    • Chairman of Board of Directors of Soliton Telmec Uganda, the leading telecom company in Optic fibre business managing over 80% of optic fibre in Uganda.