The government has said it is still studying the security environment before joining the East Africa single tourist visa whereby Rwanda, Kenya and Uganda are already members.
Tourists visiting Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are no longer to pay for separate visas for all three countries, as the East African single tourist visa comes into effect on January 1, 2014.
Working like the Schengen visa for European Union countries, the East African single tourist visa allows a tourist to enter any of the three countries that issued the visa and move freely within the other states.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with The Guardian on Wednesday, Minister for Natural Resources and Toursim, Lazaro Nyalandu said the government is now making a critical study of security situation in the region before joining the East Africa single tourist visa.
“We are still weighing the possible impacts of the joint visa before committing ourselves to that project,” he said.
The minister added: “We would like to join the East Africa single tourist visa but there are some syntheses that we are doing to prove that the project will be beneficial to our country.”
The multiple-entry visa is valid for 90 days and costs USD100. Tourists can apply at any diplomatic office of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, at immigration offices of the respective countries or online.
Under the agreement reached by the three countries whose partnership is referred to as the Coalition of the Willing (CoW), Rwanda provides the software for personalisation of the visa stickers to Kenya and Uganda. The software will enable the three countries to share the fees, tourist information and tourism data.
The visa said to reduce the costs of movement across the countries, leading to an increase in the number of tourists.
The single tourist visa is said to increase the number of tourists and also benefit citizens as it will allow free movement of people within the region.
The visa will not be extended, and a visitor will not be allowed to work.
However, speaking recently, Waturi Matu, co-coordinator of the East African Tourism Platform, said the single tourist visa encourages visitors to tour the region at a low cost.
“Tourists will only pay USD100 to tour the three countries, instead of USD150 or more as has been the case,” said Matu.
However, she said more needs to be done. “The three countries should now focus on other issues like reducing the airfares within the region,” she said.
For example, it is more expensive for a tourist to fly within the three countries than to fly into them from Britain.
“A tourist flying from Britain to Kenya will pay USD800, then USD400 from Kenya to Uganda, and USD300 to Rwanda,” Matu said. “This is very expensive considering the distances between the East African countries.”
SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN