East Africa Tourist Visa Aims to Boost Tourism in the Region

Travel professionals at ITB Berlin 2023 are informed about the business opportunities and prospects offered in East Africa today.

In the presence of African joint venture partners, including a delegation accompanying the Ethiopian tourism minister, representatives of business and tourism organizations described possible ways in which these countries can profit from the expansion of long-haul tourism.

East African countries have a wealth of tourism highlights. Tourism attractions range from safari tours to gorillas in the wild in Uganda, as well as cultural sites in Ethiopia and the famous Nyungwe waterfalls in the national park of the same name in Rwanda. Kenya and Tanzania, together with the island of Zanzibar, are already popular destinations for German visitors. The majority of tourists use the services of well known package tour providers, explained Dr. Martin Post from the German Travel Association (DRV). He forecasts a substantial recovery of the long haul travel market. However, many people make their bookings at short notice, which complicates planning for the providers of such services.

Matthias Lemcke, vice president of the South and East Africa Working Group (ASA), described the advantages of his association, which includes tourism boards, airlines and tour operators. Part of his work involves visits by delegations from Germany to countries that have not had many international tourists. Among the events planned for 2023 is a tour to Angola. As a consultant and ASA member Guido Bürger explained that tour operators with a unique selling point can also find opportunities, alongside established suppliers of package tours, for example by offering bird spotting or culinary events. However, growing numbers of travellers are making their bookings online or, if they are familiar with a country, they put all the components of their trip together themselves. Digitalisation provides an opportunity for small and medium sized businesses, and in some East African countries they can to some extent have access to funding programmes such as those offered by the World Bank or the GIZ.

The East Africa Tourist Visa, known as EATV for short, is designed to make travellers‘ lives easier. So far it is valid for Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. More countries may be included in the future. All three countries can be visited with one visa, which is valid for 90 days and entitles the holder to multiple entries.


Over the past few years, Kenya has slowly but steadily been rebuilding its tourism sector.  Kenya’s major activities include holiday travel at 68 per cent, business travel at 18 per cent and transit at 14 per cent. Tourism arrivals for the year 2018 were recorded at 2.025 million. The challenges for Kenya include globalization which is leading to the creation of uniform standards and protocols, and the heavy taxation of the sector, among others.


The country has branded itself as “Gifted by Nature” with many tourist attractions, including wildlife, nature, geography, culture, heritage and good weather all year around. Uganda witnessed a 7.4 per cent increase in international tourist arrivals in 2018, with the numbers growing from 1,402,409 persons in 2017 to 1,506,669 arrivals in 2018.


Tourism revenue recorded a 76 per cent decline from $498 million in 2019 to $121 million in 2020 due to the pandemic restrictions.

In 2021, Rwanda’s tourism revenues were $164 million, a 25 per cent increase from $131 million in 2020. The country welcomed more than 512,000 international visitors in 2021.

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