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  Home > Entering Africa > Travel Tips
Kenya says EAC could have tourist single visa by end of 2014
2013/10/21

 

NAIROBI, Oct. 18 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday said the East African Community member states could have a single tourist visa by the end of 2014.

Kenyatta told a regional tourism forum in Nairobi that the move will allow the economic bloc to a have a joint marketing strategy. "We hope to have single tourist visa for the EAC by the end of 2014, so that the region's tourist's attraction are marketed jointly," Kenyatta said during the opening ceremony of the Kenya Travel Expo.

The EAC partner states include Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi and Rwanda. The three-day event brought over 150 travel industry practitioners from over 30 countries to reviews ways of selling Kenya as a tourism destination.

Kenyatta said the East African region is set to attract an increasing number of tourists following proposals to have a joint tourist visa.

"The objective is that the gorillas of the Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi as well as the wildlife and coastal beaches of Kenya and Tanzania are sold as a single package," he said.

"We are also working on a joint marketing strategy so that as we sell Kenya as a tourist destination, we will also be selling all the attractions that the region has to offer," he said.

The Kenyan leader stressed the importance of tourism, saying it generates around 12 percent of Kenya's gross domestic product and accounts for about 9 percent of the country's total formal employment. He said his administration is focused on enhancing the country's competitiveness in the sector to increase the number of tourists visiting Kenya every year.

"Specifically, we have committed to promote Kenya as a destination, rather than stop-over, and to attract at least 3 million tourists annually," he said.

The president called for additional investment in hotel and other tourism-related infrastructure as the government scales up interconnectivity through port, rail, road and infrastructure.

He singled out the ongoing expansion of the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport and the opening of the expanded Kisumu Airport as some of the initiatives to increase the country's capacity to receive more visitors.

"Airstrips in our major safari destinations have also been refurbished. As a result, the tourists will soon be able to traverse Magical Kenya with ease and in a manner that enables them to optimize their safari experience," he said.

He assured the Kenya tourism Board of increased budgetary allocation to enable it to promote a diversified range of domestic destinations. Kenyatta also said his administration has put in place measures to counter terrorism and other security threats.

He said the government is vigilant and has embarked on heavy investment in security to ensure the safety of Kenyans and tourists.

He also said that Kenya is intensifying efforts to lobby the international community to stop the trade in poached animal products.

"This trade is having a damaging effect on the country's tourism sector that is heavily reliant on wildlife," he said.

"We will complement this effort by increasing the capacity of the Kenya Wildlife Services to effectively curb poaching through intensified and focused investment in equipment, personnel and specialized intelligence," he said.

Speaking during the occasion, East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie said the expo was an important platform to promote the country's tourism sector.

"It enables us to build partnerships that are instrumental to our growth as spelt out in our Vision 2030. It is both an exposition of opportunities and an interaction of possibilities for those who have attended," Kandie said.

She added that Kenya is encouraging additional investment in the hotel and other tourism related infrastructure projects.

The cabinet secretary said that Kenya will focus on high-value tourism sectors such as business conference, sports and medical tourism.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa said that Kenya is working hard to maintain its traditional sources of tourists.

"We are also looking for opportunities in the emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil," he said. Ndegwa said that the EAC also represent a key source for inbound tourists.

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