Kenya to lower park, visa fees to woo visitors

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. (Photo: Courtesy)

Kenya plans to reduce various charges that tourists pay to enter the country and visit attractions during the low season in a bid to keep the number of visitors high and help cushion the industry during lean times.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the Government is considering bringing down visa and game entry fees during months when visitor numbers are low so as to increase tourist numbers. During the low season, which falls between April and June, many tourism industry players usually lower their rates due to the low demand occasioned by fewer tourists. Some players even shut down, as is the case at the Kenyan coast at the moment, due to low demand for their services.

Charges for visa and the major attraction sites, however, remain the same throughout the year. Balala said adjusting these fees depending on the demand might complement the huge discounts by the private sector in pushing up the numbers during the low season.

“We are looking into how we can reduce visa and park entry fees during the low season. By appreciating and differentiating the high and low seasons, we can be able to further grow the number of tourists coming to Kenya as well as industry earnings,” Balala told delegates at the Tourism Innovation and Change forum in Nairobi. The two-day conference ends today.

Tourists to Kenya pay $50 (Sh5,000) for a single entry visa while a multiple entry one costs $100 (Sh10,000). In November last year, the Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) capped the entry fees to all national parks and reserves that it manages to $60 (Sh6 000) for non-residents following a move by Treasury to exempt park entry fees from Value Added Tax (VAT).

Balala also said the Tourism Ministry is working with Interior Ministry in a plan to grant temporary visa to passengers that have long layovers at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA). Balala said the proposal, which would give such visitors a short stay without prior applications, is set to be presented to the Cabinet ‘soon’ and be in place by start of 2018.

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Push up earnings

“The President has directed the Cabinet Secretary of Interior and Coordination Joseph Nkaiserry and I to come up with a policy that will enable entry for people that might otherwise have to stick at the airport for long hours. So by January next year, people flying Kenya Airways and connecting to other destinations can get a visa giving them entry into Nairobi,” he said.

Balala argued that such visitors would spend on different areas including restaurants and attractions such as the museum and national park and hence push up the earnings for the industry.

The conference was opened by Foreign Affairs Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohamed and attended by over 200 delegates from across the world.

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