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EAC states to launch single tourist visa

Three East African countries will soon launch a single tourist visa to ease movement of visitors across their national borders.

The visa will also make it easier for the tourism industry in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda to offer multi-destination packages.

According to the East African Tourism Platform coordinator, Ms Waturi Matu, there have been concerns on how to split the revenue, possible loss of money and screening of visitors.

“It has taken a while, but Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have seen that the advantages (of the single visa) far outweigh the disadvantages,” she said.

Moves to facilitate tourists across the EAC borders were given fresh impetus in June when the presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda met and agreed to strengthen integration and co-operation to spur trade.

“Rwanda will be in charge of designing the visa. The plan is to have it launched in January next year. Tanzania and Burundi are free to join at any time,” she said.

A statement by TradeMark East Africa said a tourist will be able to buy a visa for the three countries for Sh8, 400 instead of three visas for Sh12, 600.

Substantial

The savings for couples and those with children, the main tourism unit, is therefore substantial.

“Tourism is a key source of income for the East African Community and we support the East African Tourism Platform precisely so it can lobby to make the borders between members states ‘thinner’ and less bureaucratic,” said TradeMark East Africa chief executive, Mr Frank Matsaert.

The three governments and EATP hope the move will help boost their share of international arrivals.

It is an increasingly competitive and cut-price market and tourism operators see the single visa as a first step towards winning more African-bound visitors.