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Uptake of East Africa’s single tourist visa increases

NEWS
By Peter Muiruri | September 8th 2015
Tourism players in East Africa discussing the benefits of the Single Tourist Visa Deal in Kigali, Rwanda. PHOTO: Peter Muiruri

NAIROBI: Since East Africa’s single tourist visa was launched in February last year, 4,000 visas have been issued. This is a month-on-month improvement from an average of 156 visas sold in the 10 months to December last year, to 305 this year. With the visa, foreigners can visit attractions in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda on paying a fee of $100 (Sh10,600); Tanzania and Burundi are not party to the deal.

Speaking last week at a networking session for regional tour operators held in Rwanda, Yamina Karitanyi, chief tourism officer, Rwanda Development Board, said this illustrates that easing the visa process can significantly increase the uptake of the region’s tourism products.

“Kenya and Uganda had to revise their visa fees in favour of the harmonised visa charges. It takes political will for that to happen and it’s good that our three leaders are committed to the process,” she said.

Carmen Nibigira, the regional co-ordinator for the East Africa Tourism Platform, added: “We tour over a dozen countries in Europe using the Schengen visa. There is no reason East Africa should have restrictions when visiting all five countries.”

Kenya Association of Hotel Owners and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia called on regional airlines to lower fares to enable more passengers take advantage of the new visa regime.

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