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East African countries to launch common travel visa

23 September 2014, 10:46

Nairobi - Kenya will join Uganda and Rwanda to launch the East Africa Visa during this year's Japan Association of Travel Agents (JATA) Tourism Expo to be held later this week, tourism marketers said on Monday.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the KTB is seeking to increase Kenya's market share by continuously positioning the country as the ideal tourism destination in Africa, however, lack of a regional common visa has been a major drawback towards marketing East Africa as a single tourist destination.

"Japan has tremendous growth potential given that 16.5 million Japanese engage in outbound travel annually," Ndegwa said, adding the KTB will be exhibiting at the Expo.

Foreign tour operators have complained of cumbersome immigration procedures at border entry points for those who wish to cover various circuits in East Africa. In particular, the requirement for tourists to disembark from Kenya tour vehicles to board the Tanzanian vehicles while crossing into Tanzania has been a major point of complain by the international and local tour operators.

Kenya allows tour vehicles from the East Africa Community (EAC) to operate in the country.

Previously, foreign tourists visiting EAC countries are required to stamp their passports in each EAC country visited. The EAC is also in the final stages of implementing a single visa for the five member states.

The single tourist visa resulted from a joint initiative and decision made by the Heads of State of the respective countries. Before the establishment of the single entry, visa for Kenya was 50 U.S. dollars, for Uganda was 50 dollars and Rwanda was 30 dollars.

Also read: Foreigners to get six months East Africa Tourism Visa

The exhibition is scheduled to take place from Sept. 25-28 in Tokyo. The East Africa Visa will be launched on Sept. 26 in an event that will give all three countries an opportunity to showcase what they have to offer.

Japan is Kenya's third Asian source market after India and China. The JATA Tourism Expo provides an opportunity for tourism destinations and companies to showcase their products and series to the region.

 - Xinhua

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