Published November 5, 2013
Two months to the launch of a fast-tracked East African single tourist visa, Tanzania is still unwilling to join the bandwagon until the relevant fee collection infrastructure that links member states is in place.
Three East African Community (EAC) members states of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are set to officially launch the visa in January 2014.
The visa will help to ease movement of tourists across national borders and make it easier for industry players to offer multi-destination packages.
According to Chikandi Rumisha, a spokesman for Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure is an important prerequisite to any agreement because it will enable the exchange of fees, data and other information on tourists.
Rumisha said on November 1, 2013 in Dar es Salaam that Tanzanian government has also considered other issues including security as verification of visitors will only be done at any entry point among the member states.
“The proposed network of sharing data on tourists and fee collection, as well as security issues leaves a lot to be desired,” Rumisha said.
“For instance, when a tourist pays entry fee in Kenya, and he or she gets security problems here, shall we (Tanzania) incur any costs?” he said.
The single tourist visa has been the subject of discussion for a number of years, with security issues, how to split revenues and visitor screening being among the major issues.
But Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have seen that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, according to Waturi Matu, a coordinator (Kenya) of the East African Tourism Platform.
Moves to facilitate tourists across EAC borders was given fresh impetus in June 2013 under what has come to be termed as ‘the coalition of the willing, when the presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda met and agreed to strengthen integration and cooperation.