Intelligent news from Mozambique

Mozambique border guards accused of ‘sabotaging’ tourism sector

  • Migration service confirms it is not complying with new regulations allowing tourists to get visas at the border
  • SENAMI cites security reasons and fears for employment at Mozambique’s embassies abroad

Mozambique’s tourism industry has accused the national migration service of “sabotage” for refusing to implement a government regulation allowing visitors to purchase a tourist visa on arrival in the country.

The government approved a regulation in February allowing foreign tourists to get dual-entry visas at Mozambique’s borders, regardless of their country of origin. However, national migration service SENAMI announced last week that it is no longer issuing border visas to citizens of countries which host Mozambican embassies or consulates.

According to SENAMI spokesperson Cira Fernandes, the decision is motivated by security concerns and the need to create employment for the staff of Mozambique’s foreign embassies, many of whom have been left with nothing to do since the change in the rules earlier this year.

“We’re seeing unprecedented demand at the borders,” Fernandes told Zitamar News, “but the embassies are seeing completely the opposite situation. This hinders colleagues who work in those embassies, who no longer work because there’s no demand.”

João das Neves, head of tourism at Mozambique’s biggest private business association, the CTA, told Zitamar that SENAMI is doing the opposite of what the government had decided.

“This is sabotage,” he said. “The government approved the regulation and they [SENAMI] are not implementing it in its entirety, [and instead]doing exactly the opposite.”

‘Protecting sovereignty of the state’

Fernandes, however, told Zitamar that changes in the law are not implemented automatically – and that SENAMI’s position was prompted by concern over national security.

“We approved this regulation to facilitate visits to the country, but not to the exclusion of the question of security,” she said. “We are fulfilling our mission of controlling migration with a view to protecting the sovereignty of the state.

“If we don’t fortify security we could be hosting terrorist networks in the country, and fail to combat them when it’s already too late.”

The lack of employment at Mozambican embassies abroad is also an issue, she said. “The state is paying for relocation and everything else, but there’s no work there any more.” She pointed at Portugal, India, and China as examples of countries with Mozambican embassies, but where tourists often don’t obtain visas before travelling.

“People come from there, cross oceans and arrive here and ask for a visa,” she continued. “If you leave here and go to China, or Thailand, you’re not going to get in without a visa. But they manage to leave there and just ask for a visa on the border.

“They need to know that the border visa is not a substitute for the embassies.”

End discrimination

Nuno Fortes, of the Ministry of Tourism’s National Tourism Institute, INATUR, told Zitamar he did not understand SENAMI’s behaviour. “At the end of the day, what did we approve – wasn’t it meant precisely to end this discrimination between countries with or without diplomatic representation?

“We’ve even received complaints from tourists who make reservations in hotels, but who arrive at the border and aren’t allowed in,” Fortes said. “It worries us greatly when these situations come from precisely the people who are supposed to guarantee its implementation.

“If SENAMI continues saying these things, it is going to negatively affect the attraction of tourists and potential investors,” Fortes said.

© 2017, Zitamar Ltd. Reproduction and dissemination prohibited without written permission.


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