Tourists shocked by doubled Visa fees in Uganda


(Posted 03rd July 2015)

Clearly not to be outdone by the Kenyan folly which now demands Visa in advance, to be applied and paid for via a website and the processing taking at least a week, hence ruling out any last minute bookings or even cross border visits from for instance Tanzania at the spur of a moment – a two months grace period has been given during which Visa can still be obtained on arrival – has Uganda also shot herself in the proverbial tourism foot when overnight doubling Visa fees from 50 to 100 US Dollars.

Most Ugandan High Commissions and Embassies too are still blissfully unaware of the changes and their respective websites continue to show the fee of US Dollars 50 per person, yet on arrival are tourists told to cough up twice as much since yesterday.

A significant market segment in Europe and North America these days falls into the last minute booking category and the loss of business for Kenya, when the grace period expires, is thought to immediately run into the millions of US Dollars.

There is still no clarification available from Kenya about a change in modalities if any to obtain a common tourist Visa which costs US Dollars 100 to visit the three countries of Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya. This Visa was up to now available on arrival in any of the three countries on request but no known e-procedure has been established for clients travelling to Kenya as first point of entry.

Asked one tourism stakeholder met while in transit in Nairobi: ‘The three country Visa one only gets when asking for it. To do that one has to be at immigration in JKIA. How will a traveler get there however if they are in two months time denied boarding for lack of Visa and yet they want to visit the other two countries also which do not have the advance regulations? I don’t know how this will work. Will we not push travelers to rather fly to Entebbe or Kigali instead of Nairobi? There they get their Visa on arrival and can ask for the common tourist Visa but here in Kenya? This is a mess because those who made the new rules did not consult and failed to notice these loopholes’.

It is obvious that the authorities, as often before, shot their mouths off and instituted measures without thinking through the logistics, especially vis a vis the common tourist Visa, nor for that matter the issue of the present transit Visa arrangements which allow tourists from Tanzania to enter Kenya for the purpose to travelling to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport to fly back home.

Those affected in the tourism industry with cooler heads, unlike a mob of frenzied yappers shooting their infantile mouths off over sovereignty, long overdue retaliation, WE DON’T NEED YOU utterances and engaging in online social media bar brawl arguments, have already called upon the authorities to clarify on these issues and rectify the blatant oversights which emerged already on day one of these changes coming into effect.

It is just like with park fees or gorilla tracking fees. If those are changed the tourism industry needs longer term advance notice to reflect these changes in contractual arrangements. Our government should be sensitive to such issues and not take such decisions almost overnight. They make us all look like fools really like yesterday when it happened and I had no idea what was going on’ volunteered one Ugandan tourism stakeholder while another on social media posted: ‘but seriously don’t we all struggle enough to get tourists to Uganda? soon I have no ideas any more too. And why always these unexpected increases so that we can’t even warn our clients’

Statements are expected from the respective tourism boards and tourism ministries to clarify on these developments.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from across the Eastern African region.

2 Responses

  1. Thank you for your thankful insights about the tourism visa – a country such as Uganda has once again shot itself in the foot – Uganda in spite of someone as you suggested might say and since 1992 I have heard those “we don’t need you” utterances – we are in 2015 a global community where we al – when l need one another and Uganda needs tourist – its major income 2013 but due to Ebola – the perception about Kenya’s religious wars could once again spill over…Uganda is the Pearl of Africa – but someone has to keep its luster aglow and a 100 usd visa is not the normal “you are most welcome” gesture=when you fish you need bait – even though Rwanda has higher gorilla permits – the no visa needed for may nationalities keeps as the only country in East Africa that is pro-tourism…sadly my beloved Uganda’s bureaucrats keep believing in the myth of accidental tourism…thank God some more has been budgeted and just maybe things will change for the betterment of all Ugandans…the 100 usd tourist visa will be detrimental to visitors seeing as one of the friendliest nations in Africa as proclaimed in recent times by the African Economist…thank you again…