Case studies: Countries that moved up in 2021
- Namibia rose 21 places in 2021, moving into the AVOI’S top 20 countries and improving its score by 180% since the 2016 edition.
2021 AVOI ranking: 19/54 (up from 40 in 2020 and 2019, 38 in 2018, 36 in 2017, and 38 in 2016)
- 2021 openness rate: In 2021, the citizens of 72% of African countries could enter Namibia visa-free or could obtain a visa on arrival (up from 25% in 2020, 2019 and 2018).
Namibia’s precipitous rise in ranking follows its introduction of a new visa-on-arrival policy for the nationals of 47 countries worldwide, including 27 African countries. In addition, Namibia exempts travellers from 12 African countries from all visa requirements.
“The decision for Namibia to implement visa on arrival for tourists/ visitors is a contribution to, and is in line with [the] general principles and agenda of the African Union for African integration and visa-free Africa as well as Namibia’s strategies to improve the performance of the economy.”
The Namibian Ministry of Home Affairs and Immigration launched the policy in September 2019 at Hosea Kutako International Airport and planned to extend it to seven more entry points, including Walvis Bay Airport.35 The policy applies to tourists, visitors, and investors looking for business opportunities in Namibia.
The policy was one of the strategies discussed at the Economic Growth Summit convened by President Dr. Hage G. Geingob in 2019. The Government of Namibia is also looking at eVisas and other mechanisms to encourage tourism and economic growth. At the same time as it adopted the new visa policy, the government began issuing five-year employment permits to potential investors and people with critical skills and expertise.
“This initiative will make Namibia a destination of choice, attract skills and facilitating increased trade and investment to position Namibia as the logistic hub. Granting visas at airport[s]...should be a means to make a competitive nation in terms of movements of people and goods, in terms of service delivery and of projecting an image of professionalism.”
In Namibia, as in the Southern Africa Development Community, the COVID-19 pandemic hit the tourism sector particularly hard. The country’s visa-on-arrival policy will play an important role in helping the sector rebound.
In 2020, visitors from other African countries accounted for 75% of all visitors to Namibia (up from 72% in 2019). This figure is likely to increase in coming years.
- Tunisia rose five places in 2021, increasing its AVOI score to 0.42 from 0.40 and improving its score by 75% over five years. The country is one of the 15 countries that most opened its visa regime between 2016 and 2020.
- 2021 AVOI ranking: 25/54 (up from 30 in 2020, 27 in 2019, 324 in 2018, 23 in 2017, 36 in 2016)
- 2021 openness rate: In 2021, the citizens of 42% of African countries could enter Tunisia visa-free or could obtain a visa on arrival (40% in 2020 and 2019, and 42% in 2018).
Tunisia’s move to open its borders to African and global travellers is helping to realize the government’s vision of rebuilding and revitalizing the tourism sector to boost youth employment.
The COVID-19 pandemic caused Tunisia’s travel and tourism industry to lose almost half its share of GDP in 2020: the figure fell from 14.0% in 2019 to 7.3% a year later. But Tunisia was also among the first countries in North Africa to reopen its borders as the pandemic began to come under control. The country established a health protocol for each part of the tourism value chain. In return, it was acknowledged with the SafeTravelsTM stamp of the World Travel & Tourism Council.
“@WTTC recognizes #Tunisia as a World Safe Travel destination. This endorsement provides consistency and reassurance for #travelers.”
- Morocco rose five places on the AVOI in 2021, increasing its visa openness score by 17% from the year before and regaining its position on the 2016 and 2017 rankings.
- 2021 AVOI ranking: 41/54 (46 in 2020, 46 in 2019, 40 in 2018, 41 in 2017 and 2016)
- 2021 openness rate: In 2021, the citizens of 13% of African countries could enter Morocco visa-free or could obtain a visa on arrival (11% in 2020 and 2019, 17% in 2018).
Before the pandemic, over 2.5 million Moroccans—almost 25% of the workforce—held a job related to tourism. Tourism contributed more than 8% to Morocco’s GDP directly and almost as much indirectly. Between 2019 and 2020, however, those figures fell by half.
In response, the Ministry of Tourism introduced the “Welcome Safely” certification for local establishments that adhere to protocols to protect against COVID-19. The country continues to welcome the citizens of dozens of countries around the world, visa-free.
Few of those countries, however, are in Africa.
“Easing the travel and the mobility of the tourists is priority number one. [We have] been investing in health and safety, working on appropriate protocols for a cautious restart.”
In December 2020, at the suggestion of HM King Mohammed VI of Morocco, the African Union inaugurated the African Migration Observatory in Rabat, Morocco’s capital. By collecting data and promoting collaboration on migration, the Observatory will help African Union member states develop coherent policies on migration, visas, and related areas.