Single Tourist visa for East Africa to be implemented in 2014

By the end of 2014, a single Tourist visa will have been implemented as per the meeting held by  immigration, security and tourism leaders from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi .

Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph ole Lenku, who represented Kenya in the meeting held in Bujumbura , Burundi, yesterday said leaders from the four states had agreed to work on finer security details that will make it hard for criminals to move from one country to another.

The single tourist visa had initially been planned for implementation by July 2012 but was delayed after Tanzania developed cold feet on regional integration.

Yesterday, Lenku who returned from Rwanda yesterday where he attended a meeting that discussed regional integration said Tanzania had shown cooperation and interest in having a single visa for anyone visiting the region.

He said Tanzanian’s have since learned that Kenya means well for her neighbors.

He said the meeting agreed to harmonize immigration regulations to enable the three countries share information of people leaving or entering the region.

“We want to ensure our immigration system is shared among member states. For instance, if a visitor enters Uganda from Kenya, all other EAC member states should be able to know through the integrated immigration system,” he said.

He said Kenya will erect security surveillance machines to monitor the region’s borders and ensure criminals do not enter Kenya through illegal routes.

For the single visa to be issued, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi have to harmonize visa issuing regimes and fees structures.

Ole Lenku said Tanzania has agreed to ratify some of the protocol issues it had refused to sign.

The minister said EAC as a single tourist destination is among the key success factors for integration.

He said participants identified challenges which may delay the roll out of the single tourist visa and were informed that a mechanism for sharing the financial costs of administering the single tourist visa and sharing the revenue collected was missing.

Ole Lenku said the single tourist visa will require a multi-sectoral approach.

He said some countries have passed immigration laws and are looking at harmonizing visitors’ visa fees.

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