The East African Community is all about oneness especially in tourism. And it is determined to push this agenda to its limits. After the launch of the single tourist visa, now the community is looking to become a “single tourist area”. This is under its regional integration project aimed at further uniting the region and successfully enjoying trade and tourism as a bloc. EAC comprises Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda. And these are the countries that would form the single tourist area.
The EAC secretary general Richard Sezibera said the intention is to make EAC a single tourist community with a single tourist visa. This news was delivered at a press conference held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania.
EAC member countries save for Tanzania have been using the single tourist visa since last year, Burundi and Tanzania abstained from that move however both Tanzania and Burundi have recently expresses interest in joining the single tourist visa system. This is definitely progress for EAC in its bit to form a single tourist area.
There has been quite a bit of misunderstanding and dissension in the regional bloc in the past with Burundi and Tanzania being suspicious of the intentions of the other three, and meetings that were held and decisions made without all five members. Such meetings as the ones held by the presidents of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya to accelerate the construction of infrastructure such as a railway an a pipeline connecting the capitals of all three countries.
In may 2013, dissension between Tanzania and Rwanda reached its peak when President Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania suggested that direct talks be held between Kigali and rebels of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) based in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, all of that is slowly becoming water under the bridge as relations between the two countries, and all five members of the EAC bloc have improved.
For countries that depend quite heavily on tourism, a single tourist area would not be such a bad thing, but civil and friendly relations need to be maintained. Every country has something exciting to offer by way of tourism. A Tanzania safari presents visitors with the chance to visit several game parks, witness the wildebeest migration, and enjoy sandy beaches. A Kenya safari offers exotic beach resorts, various wildlife experiences and exciting mountain climbing opportunities. A Uganda safari offers you the chance to go gorilla trekking, birding, game viewing, white water rafting, and so much more. A Rwanda safari too is exciting with gorilla trekking, genocide historical sites, birding and game viewing. Every country in the bloc has high tourism potential, a single tourist area might be a good way to promote each destination across the region.