Rwanda: Visas on arrival for all

From January 1, 2018, all travellers to Rwanda, regardless of nationality, will get a 30-day visa on arrival without prior application.

Rwandans with dual nationality are now allowed to use National IDs on entry.

Further to this, on a reciprocal basis, with immediate effect, the country will grant 90-day visas, free of charge, to Benin, Central African Republic, Chad, Ghana, Guinea, Indonesia, Haiti, Senegal, Seychelles and Sao Tomé and Principe. This is in addition to the Democratic Republic of Congo, East Africa Member Community Partner States, Mauritius, Philippines and Singapore.

Rwanda is also introducing a visa waiver for some diplomatic and service passport holders, which will be effective immediately. The countries are: Djibouti, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea, India, Israel, Morocco and Turkey. A 90-day visa on arrival will also be available for travellers from the COMESA (The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa) region, subject to payment of visa fees.

This development comes at a time when the African Union is encouraging member states to liberalise free movement of citizens across the continent. Rwanda is among the countries that have taken a leading role in implementing the AU’s recommendations.

AllAfrica.com reports that previous visa adjustments saw a significant rise in the number of visitors to the country. For instance, when Rwanda instituted visa on arrival for all African nationals, the number of African travellers increased from 31 054 in 2013 to 77 377 in 2016.

According to RwandAir Deputy Chief Executive for Corporate Affairs, Yvonne Makolo, the new visa regulation is also set to increase traffic on Rwanda’s national carrier.

Global and local international conference organisers are also upbeat about the new policy. Conference organisers who spoke to The New Times said, among the determining factors that influenced conference hosting, a country’s accessibility was a top priority. This is because major international forums often have foreign delegations of 500 people and above and, as a result, the visa process can be a deal breaker.

Matthew Weihs, MD of Bench Events, a global firm that has brought the Africa Hotel Investment summit to Rwanda for two consecutive years, told The New Times: “I’ve no doubt that the destination will become increasingly attractive to a growing number of event organisers.”

David Frost, CEO of Satsa, said: “This will be a massive boost for Rwanda’s economy as it will have a knock-on effect that results in an increase in investment.” He added that South Africa should follow suit. “It is important for us to remove barriers that may deter travellers from choosing South Africa as a destination. We have an unrealistic mind-set about security; it is more than possible to maintain security while offering nations visas on arrival; a fact that Rwanda is about to prove.”

The 2017 African Visa openness index report by the African Development Bank noted that the idea of easing visa regulations often sparked fears of an increase in terrorism and insecurity-related challenges as well as a potential influx of immigrants. Yves Butera, the Head of Communications and Customer Relations at the Directorate General of Immigration and Emigration, said the fears were unfounded and claimed that, instead, increasing accessibility could ensure visitors did not have to resort to illegal means to enter the country

 

Publication: Tourism Update
Published: 20 Nov 2017
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