12 March 2009

Kenyan tourist visas temporarily halved in cost

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In an attempt to boost tourism numbers, the Kenyan Government has approved an initiative to drop visa fees for visitors to the country.

According to an ATTA Travel press release at the ITB Trade Show in Berlin, Kenyan visa costs for tourists have been cut by 50 per cent.  From the 01 April of this year until 2010, those nationals that need a visa to visit Kenya will pay US$25 each, rather than US$50.

The initiative could be the result of lobbying from tourism industry operators, who have reportedly called for a full visa-waiver for tourists to Kenya.  According to the Kenyan Daily Mail, the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch chairman, Mr Mohamed Hersi, said a waiver of the fee would encourage more tourists to holiday in the country.

"Our competitors have offered incentives to holidaymakers and that is why they are getting good business. The government should borrow a leaf to uplift the industry," said the KAHC official.

Baobab Beach Resort director Bimal Thaker agreed that a full visa waiver fee would go a long way in restoring their tourism industry to its full potential and encouraging tourists from Europe during their recession.

"The number of tourists visiting the country has gone down owing to the global economic crisis.  A visa fee waiver can play a part in attracting more holidaymakers," Mr Thaker said.

Not only has the Kenyan tourism industry felt the knock-on effects of the American and European recession, they have had to struggle recapturing a once strong and loyal tourist market after a small and contained unrest in early 2008. 

Kenya has seen some positive results this year, according to the UK Telegraph; in September, 25 per cent more British tourists arrived in the country than the month before, a number just 27 per cent less than the record number of September 2007.

The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Kenya visa and immigration services.

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