Uganda will launch e-Visa applications effective June 1, 2016, and word has it that unless one has an e-Visa and a subsequent approval printout, s/he may face problems entering the country.
Last year, Kenya caused controversy when they launched an e-Visa system which was woefully badly prepared and on occasions took over two weeks to process, by which time intending travelers had opted out and went on holiday to other, more user-friendly destinations.
This caused a major outcry from the tourism industry, already struggling at the time with anti travel advisories, and the Kenyan government eventually relented and allowed manual Visa processing on arrival in Nairobi and Mombasa alongside the e-Visa process.
It is not known if Uganda will also, for the time being, allow a parallel process of Visa on arrival as has been the case all along and clarification is sought on this crucial issue.
Here, as has been the case in Kenya, have visitor numbers taken a tumble ahead of the elections earlier this year and the national hotel association has painted a grim picture when recently releasing occupancy figures for upcountry safari lodges, camps and hotels.
The details which could be obtained read as follows:
1) Anyone arriving from 01st June 2016 who require Visas must have applied online and on completion and submitting the application intending travelers are to receive a bar coded email notification.
2) On arrival at any border post, airport or land borders, that email must be presented and the bar code will be scanned into the immigration system. A Visa sticker will then be printed, including a scanned in picture and will be inserted into the passport on payment of the respective Visa fee.
3) For any Visa extensions, again the process is due to be completed on line though it is thought that anyone in Kampala may apply in person at the Immigration Headquarters at the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
4) These applications will be for regular single entry Visa, the common East African Tourist Visa (covering besides Uganda also Kenya and Rwanda), multiple entry Visa and Business Visa.
5) Access to the application platform can be found at www.visas.immigration.go.ug
In a related development will applications for special passes and work permits also from 01st of June onwards be done online.
Relevant statements from the Ministry of Tourism, the Uganda Tourism Board and the Ugandan private sector are expected to be issued in due course further explaining the modalities of these transactions.