A joint visa scheme between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda is to become operational from January 1.

The introduction of the new cross-border visa is due to be officially announced tomorrow (Tuesday) at World Travel Market.

The Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda joint visa will cost $100. The current cost of a single entry visa for Kenya and Uganda is $50 and Rwanda is $30.

Tourists currently travelling between the neighbouring East African countries must obtain a separate visa for each nation.

The aim is to simplify travel arrangements as well as creating a new brand for the whole region, opening up opportunities for joint marketing campaigns.

The decision to introduce the joint visa was reached at the third tripartite infrastructure summit in Kigali, Rwanda, last month.

Tourism was one of the main focus areas of the summit which led to the spotlight falling upon ways in which a single tourist visa for the region could benefit each of the participating countries.

Phyllis Kandie, cabinet secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Kenya said: “Kenya is delighted to be joining hands with its neighbouring nations in a move that will benefit tourists visiting the diverse region and boost our respective tourism sectors.

“The cross-border visa will support intra-regional travel between the participating countries through new joint marketing and trade opportunities.’

Uganda tourism, wildlife and antiquities minister Maria Mutagamba, added: “We are proud to invite our future tourists to experience a more accessible eastern Africa region.

“Visitors to our region will benefit from the new, more convenient multi-nation visa and will see the improvements in security, immigration systems, infrastructure and capacity building that this system brings.’

Valentine Rugwabiza, chief executive and ambassador of the Rwanda Development Board, said: ‘With the introduction of our cross-border visa we unite to promote the dramatic and varied landscapes, species and experiences that our nations offer.

“Through this new partnership our USPs will be highlighted from Kenya’s lions and Rwanda’s gorillas to Uganda’s waterfalls while we work as one to add value to the regional tourism product overall.”