Why the EAC single visa has delayed

The chairman of EAC Council of Ministers, Shem Bageine, has said the East African Community single tourist visa arrangement has not yet been realised because Partner States have not harmonised their visa issuing regimes and fees structures.

The chairman of EAC Council of Ministers, Shem Bageine, has said the East African Community single tourist visa arrangement has not yet been realised because Partner States have not harmonised their visa issuing regimes and fees structures.

The issue came up last week during a plenary session of the East African Legislative Assembly meeting in Kigali.

Bageine was tasked to explain to the assembly the current status of the project where he informed the House that the matter would further be discussed in the next meeting of the Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management, which is scheduled for June.

The minister said that, in the last meeting of the Chiefs of Immigration and Heads of the Tourism Boards of the Partner States, challenges that could delay the project were highlighted.

“These challenges include the requirement for Partner States to harmonise their visa issuing regimes and fee structures; to develop a mechanism for sharing the financial cost of administering the single tourist visa and sharing the revenue collected; and the poorly developed ICT infrastructure at national level to facilitate connectivity of the entry/exit points,” he said.

The long procedures in acquiring visas by tourists, especially those from Europe and Americas have sometimes forced tourists to divert to other destinations.

MP Patricia Hajabakiga, from Rwanda called for a timeframe for the realisation of the single visa arrangement, adding there was need to learn from Europe’s experience.

Tourism in East Africa is among the highest earners in terms of investments, with enormous employment opportunities.

The lawmakers noted that before the single visa comes into force there was a need to address the main challenges that dog in the sector.

“Is the Council of Ministers aware of the hostilities that exist within Partner States in the tourism sector? We have heard before that tour operators from Kenya are not allowed in Tanzania, these issues we need to handle if the single visa is to operate,” MP Dan Kidega said.

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