One of the policies approved by the extraordinary Cabinet meeting of the 6th March 2020, was the Waiver of entry visa requirements to the citizens of member States of African Union, the Commonwealth, and Francophonie countries to foster the implementation of Rwanda’s openness policy;
Some of the diplomatic envoys accredited to Rwanda acknowledge that the instance is not common in many countries across the world. This, they say, will offer Rwanda a lot of international arrivals for various reasons including meetings and conferences, investment and tourism among others.
Amb. Nicolas Belomo: Head of EU Delegation in Rwanda said: "This is indeed a good decision which will make Rwanda more accessible for a number of citizens including some citizens from EU member states. Hopefully, this will be extended to all EU member states,"
Amb. Adamu Onoze Shuaibu: Nigeria’s High Commissioner to Rwanda added: " President Kagame said it some weeks back that he was going to ease the movement of people from AU, Commonwealth, and Francophonie Countries and he has declared it now. This is a plus to African development; this is geared towards having free movements of people in Africa. Other counties will follow suit,"
The cabinet decision to waiver visa requirements on foreigners was also commended by the service sector providers in Rwanda. They expect a shoot in the number of foreign clientele and this will consequently require them to up their services to the desired standard.
Muhawenimana Claude, a businessman in Kigali said: "This is a challenge to every business and service providers in Rwanda to ensure the highest possible standard of customer care. We need to create a good service chain in every sector right from transporters to hoteliers such that travelers are satisfied and happy to spend their money in the country,"
Some tour Operators expect several countries to reciprocate the gesture and ease their stance on Rwanda passport holders traveling to their countries.
When a tourist comes to Rwanda, they take photos and show them off to their families, peers, and colleagues which is another way of marketing their countries to the world. The benefits are enormous.
Rwanda is projecting an increase in tourism earnings from the current $400 million per year to $ 800 million by 2024. Economic experts say that Rwanda’s continued openness to the world will make it easier for people from different countries to invest in Rwanda, among other benefits.
Gahigana Innocent, a tourism expert said: "Visa waiver can be interpreted as an open entry to people visiting Rwanda: it is our duty as Rwandans to know what these visitors want. The government has invested heavily in establishing Meeting and Conference incentives and infrastructure and this will enable more participants to attend. We also need to increase our tourism products to encourage tourists to stay longer,"
Beneficiaries of Rwanda’s Visa requirement Waiver stretch across all continents on the globe. The African Union has 55 member states, the Commonwealth with 54 member countries and Francophonie member countries are 88.
Until recently, only 17 African countries were exempt from paying visa fees.
In 2013, the government of Rwanda allowed for all citizens from African countries to travel or transiting through Rwanda to be able to get visas on arrival.By Athan Tashobya
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