NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 14 – An estimated 4,000 Single Tourist Visas (STV) have been issued since its launch in February 2014 for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
This represents a month-on-month improvement from an average of the 156 visas sold in the 10 months to December last year to 305 this year.
Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) Acting CEO Susan Ongalo says the improvement was due to an increased interest by members of the private sector umbrella body to participate in regional forums with a view of partnering and working with other players in member countries to develop unique East African products.
“I came along with a delegation of 12 Kenyan tourism private sector players and county ministers for tourism who were keen to travel using their National Identification cards in order to better understand the process while cross-selling products within the region,” Ongalo said during a tourism forum in Kigali, Rwanda, organised by East African Tourism platform (EATP).
In July a report by KTF report acknowledged that a majority of regional and international travellers passing through Kenya are still unaware of the availability and process of using a Single Tourist Visa and National Identification for travel within the three countries.
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.
During the forum, the East African Tourism players pledged to support and continue marketing the region as a single tourist destination with a view of reaping maximum economic value from the initiative.
The meeting came on the back of celebrating over a year of the operationalisation of the Single Tourist Visa that has allowed easier travel and trade between the three member countries Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
With the visa, foreigners can visit attractions in Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda on paying a fee of $100 (Sh10,600).
It is still no known when Tanzania and Burundi will join in, but according to Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers CEO Mike Macharia, there were all positive signs.
“The whole idea is to enhance tourism for the countries and not just promote three countries and leave out the rest. Hopefully we can move into Southern Sudan and Ethiopia at some point,” he noted.