, NAIROBI, Kenya Dec 10 – The uptake of the Single Tourist Visa in the East African Community (EAC) has had a slow growth since its inception on February 20, according to industry players.
Kenya Tourism Federation Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Agatha Juma says this is as a result of the insecurity in the country with tourists fearing to visit Kenya.
Juma said the only 1,560 Single Tourism visa have been sold so far.
She said most tour operators are unaware of the products to sell in other parts of the region apart from what is available in their own country.
“Most operators in Kenya don’t know what they sell in Tanzania and Rwanda and vice- versa, this lack of awareness has made tour operators unable to sell the Single Tourism Visa,” she explained.
She said the federation received a grant of Sh9 million from Trademark East Africa that seeks to create awareness on the regional Single Tourist Visa and the use of Identity Cards in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Juma said 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. She urged the government to come up with boards in Tourism related parastatals that include Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) that will offer guidance of oversight especially in times of crisis.
On his part, Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia revealed that the East African Community is also seeking to give diplomats working in the community 30 days of free movement in any part of the three countries with the Single Tourism Visa.
Macharia who is also a Committee member of the East African Tourism Platform say this is in a bid to take advantage of the expatriates working in the EAC to travel across the region as tourists.
“These are among the things proposed by the platform that will be discussed by the member States in the next EAC Heads of State meeting,” he added.
Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda adopted a join visa that will facilitate free movement of tourists and citizens alike, while Tanzania and Burundi are yet to adopt the joint visa.