PUBLISHED ON December 11th, 2014

Uptake of EAC single tourist visa still low 10 months after launch

Very few tourists are applying for the single tourist visa and expatriates are now being used to market regional destinations.

The visa allows multiple entries in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda for 90 days at Sh9,000 ($100). A holder can visit the three countries without added costs or associated bureaucracy.

Tour firms recently proposed a review of the visa to allow 30 days of free movement for expatriates within the region, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers chief executive Mike Macharia said.

“We have realised that this segment has not been tapped into, so we are looking for ways to ensure that even as we lobby for use of national identity cards as travel documents, expatriates can be accorded similar privileges as regional citizens,” Mr Macharia said.


He is also a member of the East Africa Tourism Platform and was speaking to the media in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Since its launch on February 20, 2014, about 1,560 single tourist visas have been sold and as the chief executive officer of Kenya Tourism Federation Agatha Juma said, the number could go up by next year.

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are the only countries out of five in the East African Community riding on the benefits brought about by the system. Recently, Tanzania indicated it would be joining the three.

“The challenge, however, has been that there is lack of awareness among most tour companies within the East Africa region. This is also why very few are applying for the visa,” Ms Juma said.

She said that efforts were being focused on creating awareness about by the travel document.

“We have held business-to-business meetings to increase awareness,” Ms Juma noted.

In October, the federation signed a Sh9 million grant with TradeMark Africa to support the system and the use of national IDs for citizens of the three states to cross borders.

This is expected to ensure the three countries have a significant share of the 50 million visitors who come to the continent annually as well as stir cross-border economic and tourism growth.

The money will also be used in joint marketing of the three countries as a single destination.

Source: Daily Nation

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