New push for common visa in East Africa


Members of the East African Legislative Assembly have pushed once again to introduce a common tourist visa for the East African region, raising fresh hopes that this might materialize, subject to overcoming resistance by individual member states.

This correspondent, when recently in Kenya, engaged immigration staff at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in a discussion over the merits of such a move, only to be told boldly that this was a bad move, as was in the opinion of those immigration staff the reduction of visa fees for Kenya from US$50 to US$25, and that, in the opinion of an outspoken individual, “the politicians should stop giving our money away.”

Tourism stakeholders subsequently asked about such malfeasant comments were clearly upset and continued to maintain their long-taken stand that a common visa would boost tourism into the entire region and leaving no doubt that the immigration staff were patently wrong in their opinions and needed “retooling,” quoting one senior tourism stakeholder from Uganda.
It is understood that a private member’s draft bill has been submitted in this respect to the EALA, and it now remains to be seen if the bill can, in fact, overcome the bureaucratic hurdles or will be buried in the committee stages and lapse when the current session of the EALA ends.