POSITIVE NEWS COMING OUT OF #BUJUMBURA AS EAC MINISTER NDAHAYO SUGGESTS JOINING THE COMMON TOURIST VISA ARRANGEMENTS
(Posted 10th January 2018)
Burundi’s Minister in charge of EAC Affairs Isabelle Ndahayo said earlier this week that her country will adopt the single tourist visa of the East African Community (ECA) before December 2018.
During a press conference did the Minister indicate that she considered that joining into the arrangements presently in place for travel between Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya of this visa in Burundi "will open to Burundians a boulevard to travel freely in the regional area covered by ECA, but will also help boost tourism revenue in the country ".
Burundi hopes that national tourism revenues could rise from five million US Dollars in 2018 to more than 50 million by 2020, Ndahayo said.
She said Burundi would join three other ECA member countries which had adopted ECA’s unique visa since 2014 and where notably expatriates are now able to also travel free of Visa requirements using a unique ‘Interstate Pass‘. This arrangement is said to have boosted cross country travel by expatriates now spared hefty Visa fees which in the past discouraged many from vacationing at the Kenya coast or visiting game parks in the region.
An expensive and notoriously difficult Visa regime introduced by Burundi when the political troubles began, served as a deterrent for tourists to visit and eventually resulted in airlines reducing flights or as was the case with FlyDubai pull out altogether due to lack of foreign passengers.
The launch of the single tourist visa was a historical decision and widely applauded by the tourism industry but also trade associations, of the ECA infrastructure summit which was held on 28the of August 2013 in Mombasa, Kenya. It benefited the three, aka ‘Coalition of the Willing‘ beyond their wildest expectations and turned for instance Uganda into the 4th largest country of origin for visitors to Kenya.
The ECA is composed of six member states, namely #Kenya, #Tanzania and #Uganda which have been founders in 2000, #Burundi and #Rwanda who joined in 2007 and finally #SouthSudan, the last to join in 2016 but also the least prepared vis a vis harmonization of legislative, regulatory, financial and judicial regimes.