Common tourist Visa announcement will NOT take place at WTM after all


(Posted 29th October 2013)

An announcement was to be made at the World Travel Market next week in London, that the long awaited common tourist Visa, applicable for Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya, would be launched by the first of January next year, to add to the marketing buzz the three countries will be generating. However, the latest information from Kigali, following the third Head of State Summit of the ‘Coalition of the Willing’ – a phrase coined here and now widely used in local and regional media – indicates that such an announcement will now be made at the next summit, which is due to be held in late December. Tourism operators were immediately suspicious over this development as they had been led to believe that WTM would be the best possible platform to promote this decision, which will, when finally implemented, cut down on Visa cost for tourists visiting more than one country to the region.

We had enough of these constant delays’ wrote a regular source before continuing ‘I understand that there were big issues when the common tourist Visa was on the agenda for the entire EAC countries but then, the three made a lot of noise about it and our panel of experts agreed at the Nairobi meeting two weeks ago that we can make the announcement in London. Now what happened is a mystery but it seems there are still unresolved issues. We have already informed our clients overseas that in future, come 2014, they can send clients on a safari across the three countries and save on Visa fees and I hope this will still be on track even if the formal announcement has been delayed. The credibility of the fast tracking is at stake here. Slowing down to the previous pace is not an option for us’.

At the same time however good news emerged from Kigali that work permits for citizens of the three countries, come January 2014, will be issued free of charge, a move seen to further promote regional integration and filling urgent manpower shortages in the hospitality industry. On the downside it was learned that the single sky operation will have to wait a little longer as regulators and airlines are still searching for a modus operandum to which all can sign on. What was apparently agreed upon was the integration of the three single air traffic management systems over the coming months before full rights, already existing on paper for that matter, will be extended to any registered and licensed airline in any of the three countries for cross border flights.

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