HIGH VISA FEES A COST TO UGANDA’S TOURISM
Uganda which is among the five countries that comprise the East African federation charges a Single Entry Visa fee of $100 from non visa exempt foreigners entering Uganda including those on Uganda Safaris.
This Visa fee which is of the same amount with the East African Single Tourist Visa is seen by many as comparably high and probably worth revision. The Uganda’s main marketing body – the Uganda Tourism Board (UTB) is also joining the move of calling upon the government to rethink about the Visa fees.
Considering the fact that the neighboring states charge the Visa fees not exceeding $50, Uganda under the current arrangement is bound to lose some of the potential world travelers that would have considered safaris to Uganda to the neighboring destinations if they find it cost effective.
While speaking at the Joint Tourism Approach meeting held at Bunyonyi Overland Resort, the Senior Marketing Officer of the Uganda Tourism Board Ms Sylvia Kalembe decried of the Visa Fees which she thinks could be scaring away Uganda tour enthusiasts. The Joint Tourism Approach aims at selling East Africa as a single tourist destination and encourages the Single East Africa Visa system where the traveler pays once upon entering any of the three states (Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya) and travels smoothly throughout.
The cost effectiveness of a given destination is among the significant factors that determine its competiveness and this includes a lot of aspects like accommodation rates, entrance fees to the sites of interest, Visa fees, the Airport taxes, transport fares and guiding fees among others. Uganda already has disadvantageous policies like the 18% VAT on accommodation which makes the packages expensive and absence of a national carrier which makes travel connection difficult and fares to be high. Therefore maintaining the Visa fees at $100 could be worsening the situation and threatening the sustainable arrival numbers of Uganda Safari undertakers.