Friday, 8 November 2013

Three EAC States to use joint visa from January

By SIMON CIURI | Thursday, November 7  2013 at  10:58
EAC countries flags. PHOTO | FILE  
East African Community member states, except Tanzania and Burundi, will from next January begin using a common tourist visa.
This was announced by Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie, Uganda Tourism and Wildlife minister Agnes Egunyo and Rwanda’s High Commissioner to UK William Nkurunzi at the ongoing World Tourism Market expo in London.
The visa is expected to facilitate free movement of tourists and enhance regional integration.
“We have been in discussion over this matter for the last six months and we are proud today to announce that we finally have a joint visa,” said Ms Kandie.
“This is an opportunity for us to increase tourist numbers as we will jointly offer diversified tourism products.”
Long overdue
She said that tourism products from the three countries were varied, meaning the single visa plan would give tourists an opportunity to sample a variety of attractions.
However, the effectiveness of the move in view of Tanzania’s exclusion could be limited.
“Other EAC members will join us along the way since we have not locked any one out,” said Ms Kandie while responding to the press questions on the absence of Tanzania in the deal.
Mr Nkurunzi said the joint visa plan was cost effective and would play a critical in repositioning tourism products in the region.
Kenya Tourist Board managing director Muriithi Ndegwa said the move was timely coming at a time Kenya is tapping into the regional market to grow its tourism sector.
“The single visa is long overdue; it will not only ease movement within the member states but would also allow the tourists to maximise value for money,” said Mr Ndegwa.