NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 1 – A majority of regional and international travellers passing through Kenya are unaware of the availability and process of using a Single Tourist Visa (STV) and National Identification for travel within Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda more than a year after the process was launched.
This is according to a survey commissioned by Kenya Tourism Federation to investigate the level of awareness on the STV and use of National Identification Card for travel within the three states.
According to the research, up to 58.1 percent of travellers had neither used nor interacted with someone who had used STV, while 47 percent of travellers showed lack of familiarity on the existence of STV.
While majority of immigration officials interviewed were aware of the existence of STV and the countries involved in the initiative, 67 percent were not familiar with the cost of STV with 25 percent showing lack of familiarity with regards to the application process.
Speaking while presenting the report, Strathmore University Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research Consultant David Chiawo noted that the Current STV processing procedure had been described as very poor by travellers.
“The survey further revealed that there is limited and poor information available on STV for travellers and immigration officials with only 25 percent of travellers and less than 15 percent of immigration officials rating the current information as good,” said Chiawo.
On her part, KTF Chairperson Lucy Karume said she was encouraged to note that majority of travellers, immigration officials, travel and trade officials showed high expectations on STV, which was a good indication for the tourism sector to accelerate awareness for STV to meet these expectations.
“It is noteworthy that according to these research respondents’ indicated high expectations on STV with benefits ranging from very high to extremely high. I am however saddened that low awareness was recorded on the use of National Identity Cards, with up to 47 percent of cross border travellers and a significant proportion of (17 percent) of immigration officials unaware,” she observed.
Based on the findings, the study is recommending induction and training of immigration officials on STV and National Identity Card use to improve their level of awareness on key elements including cost, application procedures and benefits.
The study also recommends vigorous joint marketing of STV both regionally and internationally to improve travellers’ knowledge on existence, cost, application process, benefits and countries involved.
“The marketing should target key and emerging international tourist markets. Awareness and improvement of information access stand critical for increased usage of STV and National Identity Cards,” Chiawo noted.
The Single Tourist Visa was launched in February 2014 with a target to increase the number of tourists visiting the three partner countries.