Recently, a visitor who came into Zimbabwe via the Victoria Falls Airport, sent me this complaint about the experience:
“The one-and-a-half-hour trip was comfortable, but the three hours that followed at immigration was the most horrific experience for my visitors and for many other tourists with lots of money to spend – money that should be going into Zimbabwe’s empty coffers.
“It was a full British Airways planeload of tourists – Americans, Danes, Germans, Australians. After a three-hour wait in boiling hot conditions, with no seats, no liquids, no air conditioning, most of them spoke about never coming back to Zimbabwe.
“In spite of a galaxy of smartly turned out sweating immigration officials, there was absolute chaos – with just two working computers to process over 100 people. No one knew which queue to join. Nearly all of them had to fill in visa forms, then make payment, and then have their passports scanned.”
My son, Muftau, has just gone out via Lusaka Airport. He told me it took him 2 hours to get through the British Airways desk and that there were plenty more people still in the queue and the plane was about to leave.
We have to do something about the time it takes to arrive and depart from our airports. Most of the immigration offices have been presented with some new equipment, which they are using to scan passports, do fingerprints, and take photographs. Is this all necessary? If we are to become “busy,” our tourists are going to leave and never come back.