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Foreigners to get six months East Africa Tourism Visa

30 June 2014, 08:28

Kigali - Foreigners in possession of valid work or residence permit in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will be given an East Africa Tourism visa valid for six months, authorities announced on Sunday.

The decision was reached by the heads of tourism bodies in the three states.

The East Africa Tourism visa, which came into force early this year, resulted from a joint initiative and decision made by the heads of state of the respective countries.

The cross-border visa between the three northern corridor states, which costs 100 U.S. dollars and is valid for 90 days for a foreigner, will now cost the same and be extended for six months for foreign residents residing in any of the states, according to a statement.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the preferential treatment to foreigners in the member states would entice them to tour and extend their stay within the northern corridor states.

"These expatriates form a bulk of travelers in any destination and the six-month long tourism visa will go a long way in tapping into this potential group," Ndegwa is quoted as saying in the statement.

The Rwanda Development Board's head of department in charge of Tourism and Conservation Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi explained that any foreign holder of the East Africa Tourist visa will move freely to and fro any of the countries of residence to visit without having to pay for an extra visa for a period of six months.

"Therefore they have a longer period to visit any of the tourism products in any or all the states combined. This is also a good opportunity for our tour operators to offer experience packages and itineraries combining the three countries."

Uganda Tourism Board's Chief Executive Officer Stephen Asiimwe hailed the move as a great development for tourism in the region and regional cooperation.

"The preferential treatment initiative means increased business for hotels, airlines, travel operators, the service industry and jobs for our people. The residents also get to sample and have an experiential taste of the great variety of the wildlife, culture, history and heritage that the region has to offer," Asiimwe said.

The introduction of the visa, will enhance the tourist product offering in the three countries and as a result increase the number of tourists to the three countries that have a diversity of experiences to explore.

Between January and March this year, Rwanda received 305,752 visitors and 75.1 million U.S. dollars in receipts compared to 291, 418 visitors and receipts worth 71.5 million dollars in the same period last year, representing a 5 percent increase.

The noticeable increase of travelers from the region could partly be attributed to the visa initiative as well as better and diversified packages in all the three countries. The visa can be accessed on http://www.visiteastafrica.org

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