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Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have agreed to have a joint tourist visa to attract more visitors to the countries, a principal secretary has said.
Mohamed Ibrahim of Commerce and Tourism said the visa is to facilitate and ease international arrivals to partner states.
“To promote regional tourism, the partner states further agreed to allow their people to use national identity cards while crossing respective borders and air travel within the states,” Dr Ibrahim said.
Addressing a World Tourism Organisation General Assembly in Zimbabwe, Dr Ibrahim said in a speech made available to the Nation that national borders should not be barriers to tourism growth.
Dr Ibrahim said as an East Africa regional air travel hub, Kenya has embarked on an expansion process of its key airports.
“We believe our success in this effort will spur tourism growth in Kenya and within the region,” Dr Ibrahim said.
He regretted that a recent fire at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport disrupted travel within the region but the situation has been contained.
“We thank the international community for the support given to Kenya during the affected period and particularly East Africa Community partner states for availing their airports for use,” Dr Ibrahim said.
Dr Ibrahim said Kenyan infrastructure support facilities are being improved to enhance road travel and that the country’s inbound and outbound road travel has increased significantly.
“Cruise tourism has improved as a result of regional concerted peace efforts in Somalia. We congratulate Somalia Government for prioritizing tourism and urge United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) family to support Somalia tourism,” he said.
In anticipation of further growth in cruise tourism, the PS said Kenya has prioritised expansion and modernization of its ports and support facilities.
He urged UNWTO countries to prioritise peace building efforts for tourism growth.
VICTORY AND HONOUR
Meanwhile, Kenya Utalii College principal Kenneth Ombongi has been elected the UNWTO Vice President of the Affiliate Members Board in charge of Africa region.
The election took place at the Extraordinary Plenary Meeting of the Committee of Affiliate Members held at the Elephant Hills Hotel, Victoria Falls town in Zimbabwe.
East Community, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie congratulated Dr Ombongi for his appointment.
“I am delighted that a Kenyan has been elected the Vice-President of UNWTO. It is a statement of how highly the continent regards those who manage the tourism sector in Kenya. We heartily congratulate Dr Ombongi for the victory and the honour bestowed to our country through his election,” Ms Kandie said.
After his election, Dr Ombongi said: “This election is a victory for my motherland, Kenya. It is, equally, a reward for the Kenya Utalii College, the first hotel school in Africa, which has continually, consistently and successfully trained personnel for the global hospitality and tourism sector for over 46 years.”
In his position, Dr Ombongi will be able to lobby for more support for African institutions and organisations which are affiliate members of the UNWTO.
The UNWTO has more than 400 affiliate members and 340 took part in the election.
– Daily Nation