Players in the tourism industry have praised the government’s move to allow travellers from the African continent to be issued with visas upon arrival in the country.
On Tuesday, after he was sworn in for a second term, President Uhuru Kenyatta said the government would open its borders to all citizens from African countries, and that they will be issued with visas when they arrive in the country.
Kenya Association Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast Branch Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye said the move will help boost tourism.
The issuance of visas to Africans upon arriving in the country, he added, will motivate more regional and continental tourists to come to Kenya for holiday.
He said that the waiver of visa restrictions on travellers from African countries will make it easier for tourists and business travellers to visit the country.
“It should be noted that some African countries like neighbouring Uganda [are] among the top tourist markets for the country.
“We anticipate more Africans, especially from the landlocked countries, to come to the Coast for leisure holidays,” he said.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman Victor Shitakha said the government should supplement the visa move with opening the skies for more tourists from the continent to visit the country.
He noted that regional flights operated by Ethiopian Airlines and RwandAir to Mombasa have boosted tourist arrivals from Africa.
“As a result of the regional airlines flying to Mombasa, hotels in the region have been receiving tourists from Rwanda, Ethiopia, Uganda, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, Ghana and Nigeria,” he said.
Mr Shitakha, who is also the chief executive of Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels, said the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) should take advantage of the visa directive to woo more holidaymakers from the continent.
“Tourism could take a shorter time to recover if we capitalise on the visa issuance upon arrival for Africans for us to draw more visitors from the continent,” he added.
Diani Reef Beach Resort Managing Director Bobby Kamani said the visa move will open up Kenya to tourist markets from Africa and increase arrivals from the continent.
“We aim to market Diani across the African continent to enable us attract more tourists. The more than 50 African countries is a big market for the country,” added Mr Kamani.
He said KTB should prioritise on marketing the country across the continent to supplement the arrivals from Europe, the US and Asia.