THE ROTTEN APPLES OF KENYA’S IMMIGRATION DEPARTMENT
(Posted 19th October 2013)
No sooner was my own experience with a rotten immigration apple published earlier this week, did a number of my readers send in more material, suggesting that my stark experience at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was far from an isolated case, contrary to what some officials in Nairobi wanted to make me believe.
From among the details sent it I opted to select the one of fellow tourism professionals, as they after all are the very ones Kenya is now targeting as good will ambassadors and to spread the news that the country is safe – something I fundamentally underwrite by the way, as there is no place for scare mongering. However, there appears an urgent need to sort out staff of immigration who misbehave and give the country a bad name with their extortionist and arbitrary decisions.
‘A few weeks or so ago I introduced you to two top executives of Ethiopian Holidays who had planned a full week of scheduled meetings with hoteliers and tour operators in Kenya.
On arrival at Mombasa’s Moi International Airport they were met by the airline’s station manager who escorted them off the plane to immigration for the MOST unfriendly female welcome ever extended.
The station manager was in fact told to leave and reminded sharpishly that she deals with passengers according to HER rules and regulations.
Both arriving executives were travelling on US passports and later narrated that they were told that she can also send them back on the plane they came on.
Both were told the visa cost are US $ 50 PLUS a US $ 10 Handling Fee.
Both felt very unwelcome and only proceeded in view of the many appointments they had. One of them later mentioned that he now also understood why another group of his friends never wanted to come back to Kenya – they were asked US $ 50 plus US $ 50 handling fees which they refused and as a result of this were kept waiting FOUR hours to have the pleasure of being allowed to enter Kenya as tourists having booked and paid for a very expensive safari’.
The ‘handling’ fee issue was mentioned in fact a few times, as were suggestions to passengers waiting to get their Visa that they could be kept waiting for as long as it took, before they were softened up enough to respond by parting with some TKK for the privilege of being allowed to enter Kenya and spend their money.
Those who promptly mouthed off after my article earlier in the week better think again and not shoot the messenger but turn their attention to the shortfalls travellers encounter when arriving in Kenya and deal with such corrupt individuals. Kenya is presently pulling out all stops to blitz the global travel market and get a greater share of not only passengers but higher spending passengers, those who come to play golf or attend conventions or conferences. This is done at considerable cost for the country’s tourism marketing body KTB and the participating private sector partners and situations like my own and the one narrated above are certainly NOT helpful towards that common goal. Clearly time to deliver some kicks into the proverbial to shake up that system and remove the rotten apples before the entire harvest gets spoiled.
Kudos to those who at present work so hard to have a perfect Magical Kenya Travel Expo and charm our visitors and mega barbs for those immigration officials mentioned. More comments and experiences are welcome and should be posted, subject to moderation of course. Watch this space.