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Exemption from entry visas to Cape Verde for citizens of the European Union and United Kingdom, which was initially announced for May, has been postponed to January next year, the government announced on Friday.
The law on the entry and stay of foreigners in Cape Verde, which regulates visa exemption for citizens of the European Union and the United Kingdom, was approved on Thursday in a cabinet meeting.
“What we have done now is regulate the law that allows visa-free travel. We are in a position to produce the resolution that will come into effect on 1 January, 2019,” said Fernando Elísio Freire, Minister of State and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Freire said that the postponement had been agreed with tour operators who will have to adapt their own platforms to the pre-registration platform that will be created in this process.
The Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers added that the estimated loss of around €22 million in visa revenue will be offset by the creation of a security charge to be paid by these tourists.
The measure to exempt EU and UK citizens from entry visas to Cape Verde was announced in April last year by Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva to take effect from May of the same year.
After the proposed law was passed in the country’s parliament in October it was expected to take effect on 1 January of this year, but was postponed again until May.
The Government explained at the time that the measure did not enter into force at the beginning of the year at the request of tour operators.
The measure has been controversial and led to opposition from various quarters because it is reciprocal as the EU and UK do not offer visa-exemptions for the entry of Cape Verdean citizens and because of the potential loss of revenue it will represent for the country.
A survey released at the end of April showed that most Cape Verdeans disapprove of the visa waiver for European and UK citizens in the country.
In recent years Cape Verde has received,an average of 500,000 to 600,000 tourists per year, but the country wants to reach 1 million by 2021.
The United Kingdom, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Portugal are the main sources of tourists for the West African archipelago.
The tourism sector is the main driver of the country’s economy and accounts for 20% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP).Source: Lusa