East African countries that include Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will start using the East African Common Tourist Visa come will come January 1, 2014 and with it Uganda expects to have an increase in tourist numbers in a year. These three East African Community (EAC) States announced a ‘single destination’ tourist visa during the London World Travel Market conference that took place on Nov.5 2013.
This idea was first proposed almost 10 years ago and here the tourists will have to pay $100 instead of $150 for three separate visas which means that the traveler will be saving $50. Also the tour and travel company agents and other players in the tourism industry will be able to offer multi-destination packages since tourists will now be free to move from one country to another between the three countries.
Phylis Kandie who is Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism together with Agnes Akiror Egunyu who is Uganda’s Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities state minister as well as William Nkurunziza who is Rwanda‘s High Commissioner to the UK said during their speeches at the launch of the joint visa in London that the deal was a major boost to tourism in the region since it was an opportunity for the three nations to increase tourist numbers.
Meanwhile Akankwasah Barirega who is the Wildlife principal officer and deputy spokesperson at the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities is also optimistic about the development and expects an increase in the visitors to Uganda in the long run since visitors will not have to get new visa when crossing the boarder into another country which is inconveniencing at times.
He also said that this new visa has been modeled on the European Union’s Schengen Visa, which allows visitors to any of the 26 EU members to travel freely beyond their original destination and they considered the deal because the Schengen Visa idea has worked for Europe. Kenya and Tanzania get the largest number of tourists who would be willing to continue to other countries if terms and conditions were favorable and that is what they are trying to do.