Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have used the global platform of the annual World Travel Market in London, which ended on Thursday, to officially announce the introduction of the East African single tourist visa in the three countries, which will take effect on January 1, 2014.
Currently, tourists travelling between the three neighboring countries must obtain a separate visa for each nation. Under the new arrangement, travel arrangements for holidaymakers will be simplified, and a new brand for the whole region will open up opportunities for joint marketing campaigns.
The Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda joint visa will cost $100, while the current cost of a single entry visa for Kenya is $50, for Uganda $50 and for Rwanda $30.
“Kenya is delighted to be joining hands with its neighboring nations in a move that will benefit tourists visiting the diverse region and boost our respective tourism sectors,” said Phyllis Kandie, the Kenyan cabinet secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce & Tourism. “The cross-border visa will support intra-regional travel between the participating countries through new joint marketing and trade opportunities.”
The Ugandan Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of Uganda, Maria Mutagamba, for her part said that the move will make the eastern Africa region more accessible. “Visitors to our region will benefit from the new, more convenient multi-nation visa and will see the improvements in security, immigration systems, infrastructure and capacity building that this system brings.”
The High Commissioner of Rwanda to the United Kingdom, Williams Nkurunziza, pointed out that tourism is a cornerstone for his country’s economy. “Specifically under this joint initiative by our Heads of State, Rwanda was chosen to take the lead in the issuance of the single tourist visa. The political will has allowed us today to announce the implementation of a single visa and subsequently one destination in a record time of six months. As a country we believe that we will benefit from increase travelers to the region as well as intra regional movement,” he remarked.
“With the introduction of our cross-border visa we unite to promote the dramatic and varied landscapes, species and experiences that our nations offer. Through this new partnership our unique attractions will be highlighted from Kenya’s lions and Rwanda’s gorillas to Uganda’s waterfalls while we work as one to add value to the regional tourism product overall.”
Nkurunziza also spoke of a milestone in East African Tourism: “The impending transformation of our three markets into one seamless tourist offering through the issuance of a single tourist visa for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. Our three Presidents are strong believers in regional integration, including in the management of our tourism assets. Single visa, one destination – the tourist is the winner.”
EA single tourist visa announced at World Travel Market in London