MOMBASA, KENYA: Over half of regional and international travelers passing through Kenya are unaware of the availability and process of using a Single Tourist Visa (STV) and National Identification for travel within Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda more than a year after the process was launched.
This is according to a survey commissioned by Kenya Tourism Federation (Tourism private sector umbrella body) to investigate the level of awareness on the STV and use of ID for travel within the three states.
The research commissioned in February 2015 established that up to 58.1 percent of travelers had neither used nor interacted with someone who had used STV, while 47 percent of travelers showed lack of familiarity on the existence of STV.
While majority of Immigration officials interviewed for the survey, were aware of the existence of STV and the countries involved in the initiative, 67 percent were not familiar with the cost of STV with 25 percent showing lack of familiarity with regards to the application process.
Speaking while presenting the report,Strathmore University Centre for Tourism and Hospitality – Research Consultant, Mr. David Chiawo noted that the Current STV processing procedure had been described as very poor by travelers and therefore the need for review and necessary improvement.
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”The survey further revealed limited and poor information available on STV for travelers and immigration officials with responses ranging from very poor to average with only 25 percent of travelers and less than 15 percent of immigration officials rating the current information as good,” said Mr. Chiawo.
Speaking while receiving the report, KTF Chairperson Lucy Karume said she was encouraged to note that majority of travelers, immigration officials, travel and trade officials showed high expectations on STV, which was a good indication for the tourism sector to accelerate awareness for STV to meet these expectations.
“It is noteworthy that according to these research respondents' indicated high expectations on STV with benefits ranging from very high to extremely high. Am however saddened that low awareness was recorded on the use of National identity cards (NID), with up to 47 percent of cross border travelers and a significant proportion of (17 percent) of immigration officials unaware,” she observed.
Based on the findings, the study is recommending induction and training of immigration officials on STV and NID use to improve their level of awareness on key elements including cost, application procedures and benefits.
The Single Tourist Visa was launched in February 2014 with a target to increase the number of tourists visiting the three partner countries.
Under the Single Tourist Visa, tourists will only be required to pay only USD100 at the border entry point, as opposed to the previous practice of paying visa charges 50USD per country (150USD) for the three countries.