6 March 2014

East Africa: Single Visa to Boost East Regional Tourism

Kigali — THE governments of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are marketing the East African Community region as a single tourist destination following the launch of the EAC single tourist visa.

The three countries are sharing a pavilion to showcase the region's tourism potential at the ongoing Internationale Tourismus-Börse (ITB in Berlin, Germany.

The countries tourism ministers, High Commissioners and Tourism Board heads officially graced the launch of the new cross-border visa on Thursday at the common pavilion.

The single visa, which can be accessed in partner states as well as the embassies and High commissions of the three member countries, costs US $100 and can be accessed in any of the three counties.

It allows a tourist to visit all the attractions in three countries, a move that is envisaged to produce more revenue for the member states.

The single tourist visa resulted from a joint initiative and decision made by the Heads of State of the three countries.

Valentine Rugwabiza, the Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Officer, observed that the project would help boost and entice more visitors to the region.

"We have already felt its positive impact, since January 1st, 2014, as we are noticing an increasing number of travelers to the East Africa region.

With this partnership, our unique selling point as a region is highlighted as we have a wide range of experiences to offer," she said.

Before the establishment of the single entry visa, countries charged various tariffs.

A visit to Kenya or Uganda cost US$ 50. Rwanda charged USD $30.

Kenya's Minister for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie, observed that the project would allow three countries to share the 50 million tourists that annually visit the continent.

Dr Maria Mutagamba, Uganda Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiques said the initiative would make the region more competitive and reduce the cost of doing business in the community.

"The launch of the East Africa single tourism visa following the Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya tripartite meeting is a strong signal of the East Africa commitment to the integration process and the marketing of East Africa as a single destination," she said.

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