Praia, Cape Verde – Citizens of 32 European countries will be exempted from short-stay visas to enter Cape Verde, a measure several times postponed, which begins to apply from January 1, the government announced today.
The list of European countries whose citizens will be exempt from a stay visa until a maximum of 30 days in Cape Verde was approved Thursday in the Council of Ministers and announced at a press conference by Minister Fernando Elísio Freire.
According to the government’s spokesman, the list included all 28 countries that are part of the European Union – the United Kingdom is in the process of withdrawing – plus four others not in the Union, namely Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Lichtenstein.
The minister said that the intention of the Government is to extend the exemption of visas of entry into the country to Monaco, San Marino and Andorra.
With the measure, the Cape Verdean Government intends to increase competitiveness in the tourism sector and double the number of tourists visiting the country, which is around 700 thousand a year.
Tourism is the sector that contributed the most to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of Cape Verde, with around 20%, and Europe is the continent of origin of more than 80% of the tourists who visit the African country.
The exemption of visas for entry into Cape Verde for European citizens was announced in April last year by Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva to take effect from May of the same year.
However, it was postponed several times, one at the request of tour operators and also because a computer platform had to be set up to allow the prior registration of visitors to Cape Verde.
Fernando Elísio Freire assured that all the conditions are already created, in articulation with the tour operators, and that the intention of the Government “is real”.
“We are doing it with all the conviction because we believe it is the best for tourism in our country, for the security of our country, for Cape Verde’s affirmation in its region and for our competitiveness,” he said, noting that the Government is making investments in several areas, allowing tourists to move faster and safer.
The announcement of the measure has provoked controversy and opposition from various quarters, since it does not provide visa-free reciprocity for the entry of Cape Verdean citizens into the European Union and for the potential loss of revenue it will represent for the country.
The minister assured that there will be no tax loss on the part of Cape Verde with the exemption of visas, but predicts an increase of tourists in the country and resources to invest in security, improvement of airports and tourism qualification.
The minister also recalled that the Government created an airport security charge, which is expected to enter into force on January 1, but will not be paid by Cape Verdeans and by the natural citizens of Cape Verde and foreign citizens residing in the country.
According to the results of a survey, more than half of the Cape Verdean population (55%) disapprove of visa exemptions for Europeans, while 31% approve the measure and 10% did not declare a position formed by lack of accurate information on the subject matter.