East Africa Tourism Platform Develops work plan For a Single Tourist Visa to Boost Regional Tourism and Economic Growth

East Africa Visa
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The East Africa Tourism Platform is developing a work plan among partner states in the East African Community to boost the region’s tourism sector. The objective of the initiative is to make visa procedures easier and more efficient for international tourists who plan to visit member countries of the East African Community (EAC).

The East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) is working towards promoting the East African Community (EAC) single tourist visa to support the growth of the tourism sector. This aligns with the vision of creating a single tourist destination to enhance the performance of the bloc’s tourism industry. The EATP has established task groups to create a work plan for the research and piloting of a single tourist visa, with the recommendation that the EAC bring the bloc’s tourist visas under its jurisdiction by December of this year.

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This initiative aims to simplify visa procedures for international tourists visiting EAC member countries, increase regional tourism, and foster economic growth in the sector. Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Burundi, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of Congo are collaborating to create a single tourist destination.

The tourism sector is vital to the EAC economy, accounting for approximately 17% of total export earnings, 10% of total GDP growth, and 7% of total employment opportunities in the region. The sectors are closely linked to transportation, food production, retail, and entertainment. The EAC offers several investment opportunities in tourism, such as creating resort cities, branding premium parks, constructing internationally branded hotels, developing high-quality MICE tourist facilities and conference tourism facilities, and promoting health and sports tourism.

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According to Yves Ngenzi, EATP Regional Coordinator, simplifying visa procedures through a single tourist visa will boost tourist arrivals and related businesses in member countries. In 2022, the EAC recorded approximately 5.8 million international tourist arrivals, which accounts for approximately 13.5% of the total international tourist arrivals in Africa. If the visa application process is simplified, the number of international tourists can increase. That can make EAC more competitive as a tourist destination, attracting more international tourists and driving economic growth.

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Although some stakeholders argue that a single tourist visa adds no value, others believe it could bring broader benefits. Only Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda have entered the borderless borders partnership that created the East Africa tourist visa, allowing travelers to enjoy all three countries with a single visa. A senior source from Tanzania’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East Africa Cooperation stated that the EAC single tourist visa is not a bad thing, provided that the agreed prerequisites are taken into account, including the harmonization of visa regimes and developing a software infrastructure for tracking tourists.

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