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How will the single tourist visa be issued?
It will be issued upon application at any of the diplomatic representations of Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, at the Immigration offices of the respective countries or online, where applicable.
Will it be different from the other visas Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda issue?
The visas for specific countries cost $50 but allow the tourist entry into only that country. he EAC single tourist visa, working like the Schengen visa for European Union countries, will allow tourists to enter any of the three countries and move freely within the other two without having to pay for another visa.
It will be a multiple-entry visa, and tourists will pay $100 for it. The length of stay for which it is issued cannot be extended, neither is the visitor permitted to work.
What prevents me from using a visa issued by the Rwanda embassy in Washington for a business meeting in Kigali to travel with it to Kenya?
Visa issued for a specific country are only used to travel to that country and not into any other EAC country.
How will it work without stamping them?
You will still be required to fill immigration forms where your length of stay in the neighbouring country will be indicated and it will be logged in the system.
Are they all now machine-readable?
Yes. It is machine readable. Rwanda will provide the software for personalisation of the visa stickers to Kenya and Uganda. The software will enable the three countries to share the fees, tourist information and tourism data.
How will member states ensure it works?
Rwanda has been tasked with the duty of setting up the visa and implementing it for the first one year. This will be on rotational basis each year. Rwanda will provide the Information and Communication Technology software for personalisation of the visa stickers to Kenya and Uganda.
The software will enable the three countries to share information on fees and tourist data. So far 60,000 visa stickers have been produced and distributed, in equal numbers, to the respective high commissions and immigration offices of the three countries.
Visa fee collected will be shared among member states, with the issuing country taking $10 and the remaining $90 shared equally among member states.
How will the Single tourist visa benefit the three countries?
They will be able to market themselves as a single tourist destination like for the coming up March 2014 trade fair in Berlin, the Internationale Tourismus-Börs, the world’s largest tourism trade fair.
The Partner States will use the common logo and respective stands be designed to appear similar, they will have a joint promoting committee. A web portal has therefore been formed as www.visiteastafrica.org that will be hosted by Rwanda and pay for hosting and domain name for the first year. Thereafter, payment shall be on rotational basis.
What issues should the partner states address to ensure that the tourist visa is a success?
They should focus on other issues like reducing the airfares within the region. For example, it is more expensive for a tourist to fly within the three countries than to fly into them from say Britain.
A tourist flying from Britain to Kenya will pay $800, then $400 from Kenya to Uganda, and $300 to Rwanda which is very expensive considering the distances between the East African countries.
To market itself as a single tourist destination, hotel rates needs to be such that a five star hotel in Kampala is no different from one in Nairobi or Kigali. East African countries need to implement the standardisation of their hotels to meet the agreed EAC criteria.
Security concerns are a major obstacle to the adoption of a single tourist visa within the region and should be addressed as an emergency by the partner states.
– The EastAfrican