, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 27 – Trade Mark East Africa (TMEA) and the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) have signed a Sh9 million grant that seeks to create awareness on the regional Single Tourist Visa and the use of Identity Cards in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
The Federation’s CEO Agatha Juma says the initiative will focus on encouraging the players in the tourism sector like tour operators and travel agencies to take advantage of the two developments and help grow the region’s tourism sector.
“You realise that even though it is a good thing that has been done, it has not been well implemented because people are not aware of the opportunities. That is why we came back to Trade Mark East Africa and requested them to work with us and create this awareness,” Juma said.
She laments that close to one year since the two documents were launched, most players in the sector and even citizens in the region are still unaware of the development.
The federation plans to work with the industry and have them use the single visa as a promotional tool to EAC as a tourist destination and not Kenya alone. They will also be encouraged to market regional travel using IDs.
“With this, we could for example go into Uganda and get people to travel to Kenya on holiday without needing passports. Most people say the process of going to get a passport is long. But people need to know and be convinced that with your ID you can go through,” she added.
They are hoping to see increased collaboration and partnership between tourism and hospitality trade in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
“The official launch was on February 19 this year. I remember our presidents actually used their IDs to travel a sign that this was indeed legal. But shortly after, anyone who tried to do that was denied. Why? Because information had not been properly passed. But we are increasingly seeing the citizens become confident to carry their IDs,” East African Tourism Platform co-ordinator and KTF Secretariat Waturi Matu said.
Meanwhile KTF will be holding high level meetings with senior immigration officials who will help faster implementation of cross border travel by encouraging travellers to use their national IDs rather than passports.
The three partner states introduced the East Africa tourist Visa which allows multiple entries in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda for a period of 90 days.
The initiative by the three partner states early this year is expected to ensure that the three countries have a significant share of the 50 million tourists who visit Africa annually as well as stir cross border economic and tourism growth.