Delegates from Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya agreed on Friday to begin issuance of a single tourist visa, aimed at easing and promoting tourism among the three states.
It is the latest of several decisions the three countries are finalizing without their two other EAC members, Tanzania and Burundi.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have agreed to have a joint tourist visa. This means that one will now visit the 3 countries with one tourist visa. Great news for Safari enthusiasts.
Earlier last week, RRA boss Ben Kagarama announced that Rwanda will implement a Single Customs Territory (SCT) with Uganda and Kenya where all customs on incoming goods to any of the three countries will be handled once at the port of entry, Mombasa.
The resolution to issue a single visa to tourists came after a two-day meeting held in Kigali from 1 – 2 August and attended by delegates from the three countries.
Delegates agreed to charge $100 (Frw 60,000) per tourist intending to visit the three countries for up to 90 days in any of the three countries. It would be paid at the point of entry into any of the three countries.
The arrangement goes into effect in January, 2014. A meeting next month will discuss the design of the special visa.
New Minister to East African Community Affairs, Jacqueline Muhongayire, explained that the $100 will be applied to foreigners from outside the three states who are intending to tour more than one country.
For tourists only interested in visiting Rwanda only, the fee will remain at $50 for Uganda and Kenya, $30 for Rwanda.
Each of the three states will claim $30 from the Single Visa fees while the balance of $10 will be set aside for technical operations.
Commenting on the absence of Burundi and Tanzania to the meeting, Muhongayire said, “It has to be clear that these two countries weren’t and are not excluded. They can decide to join whenever they would find the decision significant for them “.
According to James Musoni, Minister of Local Government, “The single tourist visa will enhance social cohesion among the three states.”
“We’ve been striving to harmonize tourism related hindrances since 2006. Today, we’ve finally reached our objective and for us as Kenya, we’re committed to make this dream the reality,” said Joseph Ole Lenku, Cabinet Secretary for Interior and Coordination of National Government of the Republic of Kenya.
And Shem Bageine, the chairperson of the EAC council of Ministers and Uganda’s Minister of State for EAC said, “I appreciate the idea of our heads of state who thought of the single tourist visa; after seeking solutions to harmonize the tourism sector for so long, we’re happy that we’re done with it. Everything is possible.”
Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation at RDB, urged the private sector to grab the opportunity and invest in tourism, an industry that earned Rwanda over $280 million USD in 2012 and targets over $315 million this year.
Text credit: allafrica.com