- Posted by Nelson Tumwesigye
- On June 16, 2014
- 0 Comments
Following the decision by the heads of state of the 3 East African partner countries to promote the region as one Tourist destination, efforts to achieve it are gaining momentum. First with the launching of the East African single tourist Visa in January this year that enables a tourist to visit the three countries of Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya using one entry visa that costs $100, and then the joint exhibition and promotion of the region’s tourism at Africa’s largest travel trade show, the Indaba Fair in South Africa last month, the region is hopeful of attaining a significant market share on the 50million tourists that visit the continent annually.
Following this, a number of activities have been set to be marketed and promoted jointly by the tourism industries of the 3 states. The coordinator of the tripartite initiative, Monique Mukaruliza, while reporting on the progress of the marketing initiative at the ministerial meeting to discuss modalities of the implementation directives of the Northern Corridor integration projects late last month, revealed that this year’s events on agenda include the Martyrs day on 3rd June, the Kwita Izina ceremony of Rwanda on 21st of June, the Magical Kenya Expo slated for October and the World Travel Market in London in November. He assured the public of the three countries’ determination in promoting the region as one block through joint promotion of those events.
Mukaruliza informed the meeting that foreign missions of the three countries were already marketing the region as a single destination and added that the three countries were partaking individual campaigns to create awareness about the single tourist visa to simplify the process of marketing the region as a single travel package.
With the introduction of the single tourist visa, tourists are now able to enjoy a multiplicity of attractions in the three associate states at a reasonable fee rather than paying different charges and wasting time at borders, making the region more competitive and attractive to visitors.
During the meeting, the ministers agreed to draft an agreement on how to liberalize services before presenting it to the leaders of member countries for consideration. Among other services to liberalize is transport in order to boost tourism and ease the cross boarder interactions with in the region as well as integration of services like tourism to increase the region’s trading capacity within a global market.
Kenyan Interior Cabinet Secretary, Joe Lenku pledged on behalf of the Kenyan government to continue interactions with the Kenyan Airways to allow voter cards and national Identity cards of the partner states’ citizens as standard travel documents in order to ease transport within member states.
In the same meeting also attended by Immigration, tourism and trade ministers from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Burundi and South Sudan, Burundi and South Sudan were also considered in the group and were given opportunity to choose the initiatives they would participate in.
The meeting also resolved to liberalize the labor market, in order to allow citizens an opportunity to work in any country in the region without superfluous barriers, such as work permits. When all this is done, East Africa is expected to be one of the largest and most sought after tourist destinations bearing in mind of the wonders it boasts of.
With one tourist visa at $100, one will be able to get soaked in the Masai Mara wilderness, sunbathe at the Mombasa beaches, gaze at the Mountain Gorilla in awe and explore the strongest water falls in the World at Murchison before relaxing at the scenic L. Kivu with the highest altitude of any lake in the world.