African tourism: Travel stakeholders suggest single visa within ECOWAS countries

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By Taiye Olayemi
Accra (NAN) Some  tourism and travel stakeholders have said that  the issuance of a single visa for travellers across countries of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) will encourage seamless movements within the region.
They made the suggestion during the 2019 Accra weizo, a West African  tourism and travel expo, held at La palm Beach and Resort, Accra in Ghana. The expo which started on Friday and ended on Saturday had “Seamless Travels in West Africa” as its theme.
The  News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the stakeholders said such an arrangement would  enhance seamless travels by  air and road. They added that it would also  facilitate  the development  of tourism  and other businesses within ECOWAS countries.
Mr Basil Agboarumi, the Managing Director of Skyway Aviation Handling Company Limited (SAHCOL) said that the issuance  of a single visa to travel across Africa would ensure  seamless travels.
He said that it would also strengthen peace and unity among the people of Africa and the world. He urged governments across the world to work on this to reduce the bureaucratic bottom neck people had to go through at various borders whenever  they travelled  by road.
According to him, when Europeans visit West Africa, they usually obtain individual visas for each of the countries they will be visiting in the sub-region. He said ECOWAS countries should be patterned after the Schengen  country whereby once their visa is  obtained in one of the Schengen countries, it  permits  the owner entry into any them.
”ECOWAS countries need to take a cue from this as it will increase the rate of tourists from European and American countries into West African sub-region. Tourism and aviation stakeholders must collaborate to ensure this is achieved,” he said.
Also, Mrs Lydia Achel said that to achieve seamless travels on  the sub- regional continental highways, single advanced passengers’ information system should be created across the  borders of West African countries. Achel is the head of Intelligence unit of Ghana Immigration Service.
She said that this would ensure connectivity among the borders of  West African  countries and profer solutions to  a series of stoppages at various borders.
”This will assist the Immigration and other officers at the borders also,” she said. Similarly, Mr Akwasi Agyeman,  the Acting Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Tourism Authority,  urged governments  across African countries to engage in dialogue in order to realise seamless travels.
Similarly, Mr Sean Mendis, Chief Operations Officer  of Africa World Airlines,  said  that one of the problems experienced in Africa was multiple taxation. Mendis added that  people who could afford to travel were seen as government cash trap. According to him, a good percentage of money generated by the airlines  goes  back to government through a series of taxation.
”To move forward as Africans and achieve seamless travels, government must desist from milking the industry through multiple  taxation and Africans must be made comfortable enough to afford travelling. People who can afford to travel should not be seen as government cash trap,” he said.
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