COMMON VISA: A coupon of the Common Visa issued to tourists to visit Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.

Over fifty thousand Ugandans visit Kenya every month, the Kenyan Minister of Tourism Najib Balala has announced. According to Mr Balala, the number of Ugandan arrivals to his country has surpassed that of neighbours Tanzania by about 20.000 people.

SIGNED: The three EAC leaders who signed the Common Visa initiative. (L-R) Paul Kagame of rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. Photo/wordpress.com
SIGNED: The three EAC leaders who signed the Common Visa initiative. (L-R) Paul Kagame of rwanda, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya. Photo/wordpress.com

Mr Balala made the revelation following a decision by Tanzania to distance itself from the ‘common visa’, a previously planned tourism incentive aimed at having tourists jointly visit all the five East African countries at a flat rate. However, only three countries: Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have embraced the initiative that costs a tourist US$100. Usually, an entry visa to a single East African country costs US$150, meaning tourists had to part with US$450 to visit all the three countries.

According to media reports, the joint visa has been issued to 4,000 tourists who will be visiting the three countries now dubbed ‘the coalition of the willing’ and, in a media briefing Balala said Tanzania was wary of competition from Kenya.

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“Tourists who will be moving between the three countries that form the coalition will now be using a common visa that will be charged at $100 (Sh10,122) instead of $150 (Sh15,183) that each country charged before,” Mr Balala said.

“The coalition of the willing has also agreed to have a common East Africa stand at the world Travel Market to be held in London on November 7. The stand has been dubbed ‘borderless East Africa’, but Tanzania will not be part of it,” he said and added: “I want to encourage Tanzania to join us. Our doors are open.”

The latest cold shoulder comes just months after Tanzania declined to sign the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) between EAC and European Union (EU).

The EPA deal shunned by Tanzania would have allowed commodities from East Africa to access European markets duty-free, but was opposed by Tanzanian authorities who argued that it would not benefit local industries and ‘needed time to consult widely’.