In a move to revamp its dwindling tourism industry, Malawi is waiving tourist visa fees for the United States, Canada, and 14 other tourism source countries.
The country announced that tourists in Malawi dropped by at least 80% after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Table of Contents
This isn’t the case in other tourist destination countries where visits peaked after the pandemic restrictions were dropped.
What does the Malawi visa waiver mean?
With the announcement by the Malawian authority, it means that tourists from the US, the UK, and other tourist source countries for the Southeastern African country will no longer have to pay tourist visa fees beginning from January 1, 2023.
At the time the announcement was made on Friday, December 16, 2022, and even at the time of publication tourists from the 16 countries are mandated to pay the following fees:
- $50 USD for a single entry visa
- $150 USD for multiple entry visa for six months
- $250 USD for a multiple entry visa for 12 months
According to Simon Mbvundula, the spokesperson for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Wildlife, Malawi couldn’t continue to lose its tourism market to its neighbouring African countries, “We are talking of a situation where we are competing for the same market,” VOA Africa quoted him as saying.
Latest Malawi Visa-Free Countries
Before the December 16, 2022 announcement, there were 33 counties on the list of countries that do not need visas to enter Malawi for up to 90 days.
The latest addition means that there are 49 countries that do not need a tourist visa to enter Malawi. The counties in the latest addition are:
- United States of America
- United Kingdom,
- The Netherlands,
With the addition of 16 more countries, bringing the number to 49. Check the complete list of countries that can enter Malawi visa-free.
Reciprocal visa fee
Recalled that the government of Malawi introduced tourist visa fees to all the countries that required Malawians to pay visa fees in 2015.
But the government didn’t mention whether the countries no longer require Malawians to pay visa fees when entering their country.
But at the time of this report, Malawi is not on the list of countries that can enter the U.S, the United Kingdom, Italy, Canada etc without a visa. These countries still charge Malawi citizens tourist visas before they are allowed to enter the US.
Will it bring any change to Malawi’s tourism sector?
It is expected that the measure will boost the Malawian tourism industry, but there are still issues of delay on the e-Visa process on the Malawi e-Visa system managed by the Malawi Department of Immigration and Citizenship Services.
According to the executive director of Malawi’s Tourism Council, Innocent Kaliati, the issue was not about the visa fee but about the difficulty and delay in the online application process.
“We have seen through social media tourists blatantly writing that they prefer Zambia to Malawi because of the visa system and not visa costs”.
Malawi’s international e-visa system was launched in 2019 in a move to make online applications seamless.
But Kaliati said some of the documents the portal asks for may no longer be necessary, “The system takes too long to accept certain uploads. It also used to take a long time to accept payments,” he said.
Tourists from the U.S Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, Italy, France, Poland, The Netherlands, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Australia, China and Russia will no longer need a tourist visa to enter Malawi because the country’s latest visa waiver programme for its top tourism source countries.