KENYA TO ADOPT RWANDAN MODEL GRANTING VISA TO AFRICANS ON ARRIVAL
(Posted 13th December 2013)
Like Rwanda did in January this year, will Kenya follow suit and begin to grant Visa on arrival to all citizens of the African Union memberstates, come January 2014.
President Uhuru Kenyatta, among many other announcements of significance, made the declaration yesterday as he addressed the nation from Kasarani Stadium, where the main celebrations of Kenya’s 50th anniversary of Independence from Britain took place.
Unlike Rwanda though Kenya will demand reciprocity for her citizens when travelling to other African countries, i.e. to be equally granted Visa on arrival, by many seen as a thinly veiled reference to recent changes in the South African Visa processing system, which, while professing that Kenyans do get Visa for free now letting a handling agent rip Kenyans off to the tune of over 70 US Dollars for ‘processing the application’.
Issues of national security too could see the full implementation looked at afresh, should circumstances require that certain nationalities had to undergo stricter vetting. However, once granted a Visa on arrival, visitors can stay up to 6 months in country, a boost no doubt for the hospitality industry which of late has been enjoying less than favourable conditions.
Rwanda, after nearly a year of experience with their new system, has attributed their open door policy to significantly risen numbers of visitors, as well as being passengers on RwandAir, since the need for a transit Visa to be applied in advance is no longer now an issue.
Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda will also launch their common tourist Visa on January 01st, which will allow foreign visitors to pay for one Visa and then being able to visit up to three countries in the region without extra cost.
Sources from within Kenya’s tourism industry have applauded the move but remain, in part at least, skeptical over the various ‘riders’ mentioned, like reciprocity, with one saying that once the matter is referred to bilateral level it can take years before such reciprocity is agreed in a formal amendment of existing formats.
Tourism stakeholders have also expressed their disappointment that relatively high Visa fees have been maintained in the face of a downturn of tourism fortunes in particular at the Kenya coast, where lower cost of travel might induce more potential visitors to decide visiting Kenya after a string of bad publicity incidents, including one yesterday when a grenade was thrown at a car carrying British tourists.
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