TRIPARTITE MEETING ON THE MKTE SIDELINES MAKES SIGNIFICANT PROGRESS
(Posted 19th October 2013)
The ‘coalition of the willing’ used the occasion of Kenya’s Magical Kenya Travel Expo to have their official delegations meet at Nairobi’s Utalii Hotel to drive the process of a single tourist Visa forward, which according to reliable information will indeed now become a reality by January 01st next year. Plans for a single destination Visa for the East African Community were first floated over a decade ago but stalled by one member country to the detriment of all, as the full impact of tourists visiting not just one but several of the regional countries could never be materialized. With modalities now suddenly falling into place and past obstacles being cleared in record time, after the Heads of State of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda clearly had knocked a few heads together – pun fully intended – it is now merely a matter of finetuning the mechanism of how to distribute the funds among the three countries, create the ‘ticket books’ and then, come January 01st, offer tourists the option to either purchase a single country Visa at US Dollars 50 or else the new Visa for the three participating countries, which will cost 100 US Dollars.
Progress was also made towards creating a single destination format for the ITB 2014, and all major tourism trade fairs afterwards, to move into one common exhibition space with sections for Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. A new single destination with many attractions logo is under consideration by the three partners, also finally moving this previously stalled element of cooperation forward.
‘Asymmetric development pace is allowed under the East African Community agreements and no one can now stop the momentum which has build up. The three are categorically not isolating any other EAC member country and have left all the doors open for those who feel they need more time to come on board later. Of course at that stage there will be an agreed modus operandum to which one has to sign on. So it is not a question of isolating anyone but rather some not being ready to move at the same fast pace we now have. These are crucial issues and the next tripartite summit in Kigali will want to know what progress we have made. The Heads of State will not be disappointed’ hinted one periodic source who participated in the meetings. Formal announcements are expected to be made in due course when the logistics for the common Visa have been put into place and when the new logo proposal has been accepted. Watch this space.