How African countries are preparing to receive the world this festive season

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FILE PHOTO: A Kenya Airways passenger Embraer 190 plane manoeuvres at the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) Museum Air Show Festival in conjunction with the Aero Club at the Uhuru Gardens in Nairobi, Kenya, May 28, 2022. REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi/File Photo

The aim is to extend a warm welcome to the global community, showcase their scenic natural landscapes, re-establish ties with citizens residing abroad, and above all, boost economic growth.

In the past few months, Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya, Equatorial Guinea, and South Africa have announced such plans to the world. A brief look at what they have shared:

Ghana’s 46-day visa-on-arrival for festive visitors
Ghana embraced the spirit of the festive season with a 46-day visa-on-arrival initiative, effective from December 1 2023 to January 15 2024. Aimed at boosting tourism and fostering stronger ties with the diaspora, the move aligns with the ‘December in Ghana’ programme, an initiative by the Ghana Tourism Authority (GTA).

South Africa’s comedic boost to tourism
South Africa’s Tourism Minister, Patricia de Lille, unveiled plans to feature comedian and TV host Trevor Noah in a five-minute tourism video. Despite opposition from some MPs, de Lille assured that private funds from the Tourism Business Council of South Africa will cover Noah’s participation. The five-minute video went live on November 9 and garnered millions of views. The South African Department of Tourism aims to attract over 500,000 international visitors during the holiday period.

Rwanda’s continent-wide welcome
Rwanda took a bold step by becoming visa-free for all African nationals as of November 2. President Paul Kagame envisions Africa as a unified tourism destination, emphasizing the importance of intracontinental travel. Despite this, the nation still relies on 60% of its tourists from outside the continent. “Any African, can get on a plane to Rwanda whenever they wish and they will not pay a thing to enter our country…We should not lose sight of our own continental market. Africans are the future of global tourism as our middle class continues to grow at a fast pace in the decades to come,” Kagame said during the 23rd Global Summit of the World Travel and Tourism Council.

Kenya’s open borders for a United Africa
Kenya follows suit, with President William Ruto declaring plans to permit visa-free travel for all Africans by December 31. Ruto emphasized the negative impact of visa restrictions on businesses and entrepreneurs, aligning with the African Union’s decade-long goal of visa-free travel within the continent. “Visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us. When people cannot travel, business people cannot travel, entrepreneurs cannot travel, we all become net losers. It is time we… realise that having visa restrictions amongst ourselves is working against us,” Ruto pointed out during an international conference. Kenya is to end visa requirements for all African visitors by the end of the year.

Equatorial Guinea’s e-visa system facilitating entry
In their pursuit of global recognition, Equatorial Guinea aims to tap into the United States market, emphasizing their nation’s appeal for those seeking new and undiscovered destinations. “With our new E-visa Service, Tourists and Business people from all over the world can easily, securely and faster get a visa to travel to EG and are most welcomed,” said Botey.

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