By David Muwanga*
Arusha, Tanzania — Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya have harmonised tourist visa fees with the aim of boosting the region’s revenue and marketing the region as a single destination, a Tanzanian official has said.
“Each of the three countries is now charging $50. However this is not the end since we are still negotiating on other measures aimed at marketing the region as a single destination,” said the deputy minister of natural resources and tourism Lazaro Nyalandu.
“It is possible that we shall have a single regional tourist visa since we have managed to develop a single customs union thus far. As we continue to implement the regional common market protocol,” he said at the opening of a three-day Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair held at the Magereza open grounds in Arusha, Tanzania.
The fair that attracted over 250 exhibitors from Uganda, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania, DR Congo among others was jointly organized by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism (MNRT).
The deputy minister said that Tanzania emerged as a winner at a similar event, popularly known as INDABA, held in Durban, South Africa, from May 12 to 15, 2012.
“Tanzania received an award for the best exhibition as other nations in the region recognize that Tanzania’s tourist destinations continue to dazzle and attract visitors from all continents,” he said.
Hanspaul Automechs Limited managing g director Satbir Hanspaul told East African Business Week that introduction of a single visa would make East Africa a cheaper destination compared to other regions. Originally created to promote Tanzania, it’s now a regional event that also features products and delegates from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Karibu’s major function is one of a relationship broker who targets, attracts and matches the needs of buyers and suppliers. He said that with the new charges, the Tanzania government targets to attract two million tourists in the next five year’s compared to the 950,000 who visited the country last year.
“However we should also stop taking tourism to mean only foreign visitors but we are also encouraging local people to start visiting the tourist sites,” he said.
Chairman of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators Bonafice Byamukama said although negotiations for single visa continue the common ground is that the region should be marketed as a single destination.
*Culled from East African Business Week,Kampala