TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) and the Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) have signed a KES 9mn grant agreement that seeks to support the Kenya tourism industry take advantage of the opportunities created with the signing of the single tourist visa.
In attendance was Dr. Chris Kiptoo, TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) Kenya Country Director, Ms. Lucy Karume, Chairperson of Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) and representatives from the ministry of East African Affairs Commerce and Tourism.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the KTF chairperson, Ms. Karume said: “It is with great appreciation that Kenya Tourism Federation applauds TradeMark East Africa (TMEA) for the support of the Single Tourist Visa and use of national IDs for citizens on the three partner states to access various cross border opportunities. The initiative is expected to ensure the three countries have a significant share of the 50 million tourists who visit the continent annually; as well as stir cross border economic and tourism growth.”
Visa reform is finally becoming a reality in Eastern Africa. Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have just introduced the East Africa Tourist Visa, which allows multiple entries between the three countries for a period of 90 days for US$ 100 for a three-month tourist visa, allowing the holder to visit Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya without added cost and bureaucracy.
Dr. Kiptoo said the tourism sector is key for growth of the country’s economy but also has potential to grow and benefit from the EAC integration process through development of a regional market for tourists, marketing of the region as a single tourist destination, more employment opportunities in the region for the labour force in the market and deepening of trade between the countries in the EAC.
He said the idea of marketing EAC as a single tourist destination has been discussed over a long period of time by the partner states.
“It offers tremendous opportunities including increasing number of tourism businesses and increased collaboration and partnership between tourism and hospitality trade in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. We are therefore excited to be signing this agreement today,” he said.
The tourism sector is key for growth of the country’s economy but also has potential to grow and benefit from the EAC integration process through development of a regional market for tourists, marketing of the region as a single tourist destination, more employment opportunities in the region for the labour force in the market and deepening of trade between the countries in the EAC.
Travel and tourism’s importance to the wider global economy has continued to grow over the years. In 2013, the sector’s total contribution was reported as 9pc of global GDP and over 260 million jobs, one in every eleven of the world’s total jobs.
While International tourist arrivals – overnight visitors – grew by 4pc in 2012, topping the 1 billion mark globally for the first time in history. Africa registered 50 million arrivals compared to Europe’s 503 million, Asia’s 216 million, and Americas’ 156 million.
East Africa’s total contribution to Africa’s arrivals accounted for only 10pc, while its total contribution to international arrivals was 0.05pc.
Although the idea of marketing EAC as a single tourist destination has been discussed over a long period of time by the partner states there has however been no traction on the same at the EAC secretariat level.
Arising from a meeting of heads of State from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, it was agreed that the 3 partner states would work on fast-tracking some aspects of the Common Market Protocol that had been signed by all EAC partner states.
Rwanda was tasked with leading the process of implementing a single tourist visa for the 3 states and also use of National ID for entry by the citizens of the 3 countries. This is a great step for the tourism sector and has great potential for increased inter and intra-regional tourism trade within the participating partner states.