Major breakthrough reported for regional travel and tourism

At a meeting yesterday in Nairobi, ahead of Kenya’s Independence Day, which is celebrated today, December 12, the Heads of State of host country Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, took two key decisions into

Major breakthrough reported for regional travel and tourism

At a meeting yesterday in Nairobi, ahead of Kenya’s Independence Day, which is celebrated today, December 12, the Heads of State of host country Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, took two key decisions into consideration which will change the face of travel and tourism in Eastern Africa forever.

Long demanded and longer in coming was the move to grant duly-registered expatriates living in any of the three countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda, who hold a work or residency permit, free movement across the three countries WITHOUT having to pay visa fees. This, when implemented, will no doubt encourage expats to visit for instance the Kenyan beach resorts or experience the resorts along Lake Kivu, with major savings in visa fees, which for a family of four can run into some US$200 per visit, something which was long seen as a deterrent against regional travel.

The other major breakthrough was reached in regard of air transport where the three countries are now committed to lift all restrictions and create a truly open sky, something which will very likely bring the airfares down to much more affordable levels.

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Both measures are thought to have the potential to greatly boost occupancy levels for the Kenyan beach resorts and also lead to greater regional travel to the respective national parks in the three countries, where equally, and for some time now, East African resident entrance fees have been in existence to encourage the expat communities to explore the rich diversity across the three countries.

It was Waturi Wa Matu, the Coordinator of the East African Tourism Platform (EATP), East Africa’s apex body for tourism’s national private sector associations, who broke the news late yesterday evening, and credit to her and EATP for the hard work they put in and the persistence in repeatedly raising these points which finally led to the Heads of State finally taking on such courageous decisions.

This is, after the common tourist visa was launched almost a year ago, the best news so far for the tourism sectors of the three countries and gives hope to yet more changes coming up in the future to make travel easier and cheaper.

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