Confirmation has been received from Nairobi that Kenya will return to the pre-crisis 50 US Dollar per person Visa fee effective 01st July, partly to raise additional income but also in response to the intransigence of other East African countries to either follow suit or else finally agree on a common East African visitor’s Visa.
The latter has for the past 10 years been toyed with and deliberated over with little progress, causing foreign tourists to pay Visa for each country they visit in the region, effectively suppressing demand for wider regional visits beneficial to all member countries of the East African Community.
Said a senior tourism stakeholder in Nairobi: ‘after the crisis in 2008 and considering the impact of the economic meltdown at the time, we decided to lower our Visa charges to 25 US Dollars per person. In addition we offer free‘re-entry’ for tourists for instance going to Uganda for gorilla tracking and then come back to Kenya. However, our neighbors stuck to their 50 US Dollar charge, some even calling us ‘spoilers’ when all we were interested in doing was to attract tourists back to Kenya with good package costs.
We also feel that some EAC members are trying to sabotage efforts to have a common Visa for foreign tourists when coming to the region, but even SADC is now moving fast towards it. The Caribbean has a similar joint Visa regime and other regions have also introduced such schemes, all aiming to bring more tourists to a specific country and then also visit the neighbors. So at last we had to face up to this and decided that from midyear, when the high season starts again, we must return to also charging 50 dollars. We hope that the growing demand for Kenya can help us to see potential visitors ready to absorb this added cost and we will assess the impact after some months’.
Kenya, assisted by such measures, has experienced the best year ever in tourism arrivals and revenues in 2010 and hopes to set a new record in 2011.
Compiled by Jackie