East African countries want to market the region as one tourism destination but the desire is being frustrated by slow process towards issuance of a single visa for tourist.
The delay to formulate a policy on issuance of a single visa for tourists visiting East Africa Community member countries has hampered attempts to market the region as single tourist destination. Currently tourists have to pay separate visa at the entry point of each of the five member countries.
On Wednesday, Tourism ministers from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi while meeting in Mombasa said the region would be more attractive if a single visa was issued at first entry point. The East African Community secretariat appointed a taskforce to study the possibility of issuing a single visa for tourists visiting the country but the taskforce is yet to report back.
A statement from EAC shows that ministers expressed concern that the process was taking rather longer than expected. Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Prof Ephraim Kamuntu, says EAC should participate in international expos and trade fairs to deepen the co-operation.
He says the benefits of regional integration hinged on the vibrancy of the tourism sector. Kamuntu called for scaling up efforts to market the region as a single world class tourism destination. His Kenyan counterpart Najib Balala, decried the red take in issuance of visa calling for the adoption of a common visa
Balala said that fears of the unknown being harbored by some partners is holding back efforts to take the community to the next level of integration. He announced plans by Kenya to offer fully paid scholarships to students from member states to train in hospitality at Utalii College in Nairobi, Kenya. Kenya and Tanzania have are locked up in stiff scramble for international tourists amidst desire to have the entire EAC marketed as one tourist destination.
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