[Editorial] Removing unnecessary visa hurdles will open more opportunities

Another milestone has been achieved in Rwanda’s quest to promote its open door policy. From the beginning of next year, visitors to Rwanda will no longer have to apply for visas. Everyone will get their visa upon arrival.

Another milestone has been achieved in Rwanda’s quest to promote its open door policy. From the beginning of next year, visitors to Rwanda will no longer have to apply for visas. Everyone will get their visa upon arrival.

At a time when many countries have gone the isolationist way, Rwanda has gone the opposite direction. First it opened its doors for all African nationals and the results were immediate. From the 31,000 who visited Rwanda in 2013 before the visa-on-arrival policy went into force, last year the figure of African visitors more than doubled to over 77,000.

Many countries put unnecessary hurdles for visa applicants, and even though in the end they grant it, they make it seem as if it is a favour. In the case of Rwanda, visa restrictions were more detrimental and had no added value.

The country has been slowly making its mark on the tourism scene and the recent World Tourism Awards named Rwanda as the destination of choice in Africa. The accolades that the country continues to receive are due to carefully crafted policies to increase the country’s visibility and reduce red tape.

All those policies have been paying off and tourism numbers have been on a steady rise, from slightly of 800,000 in 2013 to 1.4 million in 2016.

By granting visas on arrival as well as waiving visa fees to some select countries is in line with the African Union’s call for free movement of people and goods to enhance trade and deeper integration.

It is hoped that Rwanda’s example will rub off on other countries – especially on the African continent – to have seamless travel devoid on unnecessary obstacles.