Tourism visa fees have been waived for foreign residents by Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda in order to allow easy access to the region’s various tourism attractions.
The East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV) has been costing $100 and was valid for 90 days but effective December 15, 2014, foreign residents will no longer pay this fee.
Yamina Karitanyi, the Rwanda Development Board’s Head of Department for Tourism and Conservation, said the waiver was agreed on under the Northern Corridor Integration projects initiative to consolidate and enrich regional tourism potential.
“We are approaching the rest of the world as a unified and rich tourist destination with varied experiences for travellers. We are also positioning East Africa’s tourism assets collectively as part of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects,” Karitanyi said at the weekend.
She added that the partner states will lobby for a single stand during international tourism marketing events and will be carried out annually. This will cover road shows like the International Tourism Board (ITB) and World Travel Market (WTM) in 2015.
This will be implemented by issuing eligible foreign residents with inter-state passes on exiting the host nation and visitor’s pass endorsed in their passports on arrival by presenting valid work/resident permits. However, other immigration procedures and regulations will be maintained.
Partner states will be conducting destination training workshops and disseminating information on the use of national identity cards, student/voters cards and the East Africa Tourist Visa.
Stephen Asiimwe, the Chief Executive Officer of Uganda Tourism Board (UTB), recommended this initiative will bring exponential benefits to foreign residents living in the region.
“Our countries have a rich tourist menu on offer; from serene beaches, to pristine wildlife and nature, exquisite reserves, to hospitable people. It is the place to visit. Our products are inexhaustible and this waiver offers our region the best place to live and work. We encourage this community to be a part of the endless discovery, encounter and adventure of the best tourism episode of Africa at the least affordable price,” Asiimwe said.
He added that “We encourage the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity to offer unbeatable packages while maximising win-win offers.”
According to Muriithi Ndegwa the Managing Director, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), waiving the tourism visa will give an opportunity to foreign residents to discover the vast variety of wildlife, birds, culture, landscapes and heritage, among other renowned attractions either for weekend gateways, honey moon tours, corporate retreats or annual family holidays.
During the 8th Northern Corridor Integration Summit held in Naroibi recently and attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda also directed Rwanda’s Minister of Infrastructure to call together a meeting of Airline Industry stakeholders and finalise negotiations on the 5th Freedom Traffic Rights on Entebbe-Nairobi-Juba-Nairobi meant to address issues to reduce the cost of air travel in the region and report to the next Summit that will be held in Kigali.