Three Partner States of the East African Community (EAC) namely; Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects initiative, have waived visa fees for foreign residents living within the 3 countries in order to allow them easier access to the region’s diverse offering.

The waiver agreement is part of the Joint Communique that Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, Paul Kagame of Rwanda, and Yoweri Museveni of Uganda signed at the just concluded 8th Northern Corridor Integration Summit held in Nairobi last week.

Known as the East Africa Tourist Visa (EATV), foreign residents no longer have to pay the $100 fee for the Visa that is valid for ninety days effective December 15th 2014.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said the single tourist visa will provide an amazing opportunity for residents staying in the three Partner States to explore the immense diversity of wildlife, landscapes, cultures, and heritage, among other renowned attractions either for weekend gateways, corporate retreats or annual family holidays.

The Rwanda Development Board’s Head of Department for Tourism and Conservation Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi said in a statement that the waiver of the fee on the single East Africa Tourist Visa was the next step in consolidating and enriching the region’s tourism offering.

“We are approaching the rest of the world as a unified and rich tourist destination with varied experiences for travellers. We are also positioning East Africa’s tourism assets collectively as part of the Northern Corridor Integration Projects,” said Ambassador Karitanyi adding that the joint marketing programmes will be carried out annually and will cover road shows 6such as the International Tourism Board (ITB) and World Travel Market (WTM) in 2015. She pointed out that going forward, the Partner States will lobby for a single stand during international tourism marketing events.

Outlining the modalities of implementation, Ambassador Karitanyi said the eligible foreign residents shall be issued with interstate pass on exiting the host state and visitor’s pass endorsed in their passports on arrival by presenting valid work/resident permits. Other immigration procedures and regulations will however be maintained.

In preparing for the joint marketing programs, she noted that the Partner States were already gearing up the teams involved by conducting destination training workshops and disseminating information on the use of National Identity Cards, Student/Voters Cards and the East Africa Tourist Visa.

Uganda Tourism Board’s Chief Executive Officer, Stephen Asiimwe said; “This move is bound to bring exponential benefits to foreign residents living here. Our countries have a rich tourist menu on offer. From serene beaches, to pristine wildlife and nature, exquisite reserves, warm hearted and inviting people, our region is the place to visit. Our products are inexhaustible and this waiver offers our region, the best place to live and work. We encourage this community to be a part of the endless discovery, encounter and adventure of the best tourism episode of Africa at the least affordable price.”

“We encourage the private sector to take advantage of this opportunity to offer unbeatable packages while maximizing win-win offers,” Asiimwe concluded.

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