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East Africa joint single tourist visa goes live in Berlin, Germany
Date Published: 13 Mar, 2014
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda recenly presented their joint single tourist visa to the world during the just-ended International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany.
Heads of delegations from the three East Africa Community nations that are part of a tripartite agreement praised the move on the visa, launched three weeks ago by Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda as a bold move that will boost regional integration and ease the movement of tourists across the region.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East Africa Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Ms Phyllis Kandie said whereas in the past tourists visiting the three countries had to seek separate visas in a cumbersome and costly process, all they needed now was to acquire one visa at 100 US dollars and visit the three states as many times as they wished for three months.
“This will harmonize immigration procedures, help curb cross-border insecurity, enable tourists have a one-stop border check point and generally open the region for more visitors,” she said.
In a speech read on her behalf by Kenya’s Ambassador to Germany Mr Ken Osinde, Mrs Kandie said by introducing a single Visa, the three countries are signaling their intention to jointly promote the landscapes, wildlife and experiences they are endowed with.
“Through this initiative, which we hope will eventually involve all the five partner state of the EAC, we will be highlighting the unique attractions to be found in each country," she added.
Mrs Kandie said the tripartite arrangement will see the countries have joint stands in international travel and trade fairs. “We ask the world to take notice of this key joint initiative that will see the East African region transform into a destination of choice for many travelers whether for pleasure or business” she said
Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Ms Agnes Akiror Egunyu said the single Visa represented the most cost effective offer to tourists in terms of time, money and the variety of attractions to see.
She said tourists will be lodging their applications for the single Visa at embassies, consulates or diplomatic representation and once issued, the holder of an EAC tourist Visa will enter the country that issued it and subsequently move within the other two countries without applying or paying for Visa.
Rwanda’s charge de affairs in Berlin, Mr Felix Sangano said Rwanda was experiencing a tourism boom fueled mainly by regional visitors and hoped that with the entry of the single visa, more international visitors will throng the country.
“We are extremely excited by this move, count as us to fully support it," he said.
Mr Muriithi Ndegwa, the managing Director of the Kenya Tourism Board, said the region will now be expected to benefit from an increase in tourists arrivals. “The region is bound to harvest a much larger share of the over 50 million visitors who come to Africa annually” he said.
Earlier in the day, Kenya Wildlife Service acting Director General Mr William Kiprono paid a courtesy call on NABU, the German conservation organisation that started a fund to support survivors of Kenyan rangers killed in the course of active duty.
He was accompanied by Mr Edwin Wanyonyi the KWS Deputy Director for Strategy and Change and Mr Paul Udoto, the Corporate Communications Manager.
The delegation was hosted by the NABU Vice President and CEO Mr Thomas Tennhardt who said: "We cannot protect wildlife without rangers yet most support doesn't focus on their welfare and that of their defendants. We wanted to highlight the plight of rangers and help tell the stories behind their experiences in the field protecting wildlife.
Mr Kiprono said the initiative was the first of its kind to support frontline staff like rangers and would greatly motivate those who risk their lives protecting wildlife.
He thanked NABU for the initiative noting that 10,000 Euros had been disbursed to KWS and would soon be distributed to families to support education of departed rangers.