On the final day of the tour and travel festival the east African community member states finally launched its single tourist visa which was proposed earlier this year. Ministers, tourism officials and High Commissioners from Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda unveiled the visa on Monday in Durban South Africa. The travel permit is expected to function across the borders of the three countries and should make tourist travel much easier and perhaps less costly.
Since January when the visa was brought into effect, it has boosted travel and tourism in the three countries. Adding value to their tourism products and enabling them to share tourist market. A gorilla trekking trip in the Virunga Mountains in Rwanda could end in Uganda’s Mgahinga and the tourist only needs one visa to access both countries. The visa gives tourists the opportunity to enjoy a diverse range of cultural attractions as well as natural physical features with just one travel permit rather than going through the multiple visa process in an effort to visit all three countries.
Uganda’s Minister for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities said that the visa provides greater value for tourists and will also make general travel across the rift valley states much easier. The minister believes that the single travel permit will be instrumental in reducing costs of doing business in the region and promoting economic growth and development in the region, not to mention boosting the tourism sectors of the three countries.
Rwanda High Commissioner to South Africa Vincent Karega also present at the launch, was of the view that the single tourist visa would Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda competitive tourist destinations and help put the east African region on the world travel map. Tourism is major revenue generator for all three countries and all their governments are heavily invested in using tourism to bring about economic development.
Where before a tourist looking to visit Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda would have to spend $50 dollars a piece on visas for Kenya and Uganda, and $30 for Rwanda, the single tourist visa costs only $100 which is cheaper.
All three countries participated in the tour and travel Indaba 2014 which took place in South Africa from 10-12 May. The festival provided a platform for various African countries to showcase what they have to offer as tourist destinations. Participating countries included South Africa, Mauritius, Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, Democratic Angola, Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia, Malawi, Seychelles, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Madagascar, Namibia, and Niger.