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The government of Tanzania has indicated that it will not join the fast tracked East African single tourist visa until the relevant fee collection infrastructure that links member states is in place.
As the three East African Community (EAC) members states of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda prepare to unveil the join tourist entry visa at the world’s largest tourism trade fair – the World Travel Market (WTM) in London – which gets underway on Monday ahead of its official launch in January 2014, Tanzania has categorically stated that it will not be party to joint tourist visa agreement.
The stand comes even as three other EA members – Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda – are about to launch the visa early next year.
The visa will help to ease movement of tourists across national borders and make it easier for industry players to offer multi-destination packages.
According to a spokesman for Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr. Chikandi Rumisha, the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) infrastructure is an important prerequisite to any agreement because it will enable the exchange of fees, data and other information on tourists.
Mr. Rumisha said on Friday in Dar es Salaam that Tanzanian government has also considered other issues including security as verification of visitors will only be done at any entry point among the member states.
“The proposed network of sharing data on tourists and fee collection, as well as security issues leaves a lot to be desired,” Mr. Rumisha said.
“For instance, when a tourist pays entry fee in Kenya, and he or she gets security problems here, we (Tanzania) will incur costs?” he said.
The single tourist visa has been the subject of discussion for a number of years, with security issues, how to split revenues and visitor screening being among the major issues.
But Rwanda, Uganda and Kenya have seen that the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, according to Ms. Waturi Matu, a coordinator (Kenya) of the East African Tourism Platform.
Moves to facilitate tourists across EAC borders were given fresh impetus in June under what has come to be termed as ‘the coalition of the willing, when the presidents of Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda met and agreed to strengthen integration and cooperation.
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