NAIROBI, KENYA: Tanzania was not represented in a single visa deal that was jointly announced on Tuesday during the ongoing World Tourism Market meeting in United Kingdom.
Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda were repesented during the deal which is set to come in force by January next year. Through the single travel document, member country states will adopt a joint Visa to facilitate free movement of tourist and citizens alike.
“Other EAC members will join us along the way since we have not locked any one out,” said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Mrs. Phylis Kandie while responding to the press questions on the absence of Tanzania in the deal.
Tanzania is a competing country in Tourism and other economic pillars in the region. The country’s absence in key EAC meetings bringing together heads of states continues to raise eyebrows as per the regional intergration.
Tanzania’s minister for EAC Affairs, Samuel Sitta, recently told a charged Parliament in Dodoma that Dar es Salaam would not wait for a “divorce certificate” from Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, but would “shoot before we are shot”.
The minister spoke on the same day Presidents Uhuru, Kagame, Museveni and Kiir signed a host of protocols and agreements in Kigali, including free movement of goods and persons, infrastructural development and transformation into a Single Customs Union.
The pacts were signed on the sidelines of the three-day “Transform Africa Summit” to which Tanzania and Burundi, both EAC member states were not invited.
Speaking after announcing the launch of the joint visa, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Mrs. Phylis Kandie, Uganda’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister Ms Agnes Egunyo and Rwanda’s High Commissioner to UK Ambassador William Nkurunziza said deal was a major boost to tourism.
“We have been in discussion over this matter for the last six months and we are proud to announce that we finally have a joint visa that has made the three countries borderless. This is an opportunity for us to increase tourist numbers as we will jointly offer diversified tourism products,” Says Kandie.
Tourism products from the three countries, pointed Kandie are varied and with different tastes and noted that the single joint visa will now enrich diversity at the same time increasing the value of the product.
Rwanda High commissioner noted that the single joint visa was cost effective and will boost the strategy of repositioning tourism products in the region.
Uganda’s Minister for Tourism and Wildlife on her part lauded the joint visa deal and observed that the venture will make the three member states competitive and while at the same time build on regional integration.
The joint visa has worked in other regional blocs such as SCHENGEN countries with member countries leveraging on comparative advantages and maximizing on it by pulling together their efforts and marketing the region as a single destination.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the single joint visa comes at the right time when Kenya is tapping into the regional market to grow her tourism pie.
“The single Visa is long overdue, it will now not only ease movements within the member states but would also allow the tourists to maximize value for money,” said Ndegwa.-standardmedia