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Kenya Welcomes First Batch Of Visa-Free Foreign Travelers At JKIA

Kenya Welcomes First Batch Of Visa-Free Foreign Travelers At JKIA

The first batch of visa-free international travelers to Kenya landed at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi on Friday, January 5. At least 2,300 more visitors are expected in the coming days under the free tourist visa arrangement.

This is after President William Ruto waived visa requirements for all travelers to Kenya. This is irrespective of the country of origin beginning this year.

The development follows the gazetting of the regulations to anchor the directive by Interior and National Administration Cabinet Secretary Prof Kithure Kindiki.

Immigration and Citizen Services PS Julius Bitok witnessed the maiden visa-free arrivals on Ethiopian Airlines flight number ET 318 from Addis Ababa. He said over 5,000 applications for electronic travel authorization (ETA) had already been received. A half of them had already been processed.

The sentiments were backed by passengers who said the ETA process was simple and faster. This is compared to the visa application system it has replaced.

“We used to spend long hours going through the visa application but it took me a few minutes to complete the ETA process for my entire family,” said Kyunga Sang Yoo, a South Korean national, who is a frequent visitor to Kenya.

Kenya hopes the visa-free regime will double or at least drastically increase the two million annual visitors to Kenya. PS Bitok said the country further hoped to absorb the foregone revenue from visa applications from the anticipated spending by a higher number of tourists.

“On average, each visitor spends around Sh500,000 within three months in Kenya. We believe we can grow the annual revenue from increased tourism to Sh1.5 trillion every year,” he said.

He dismissed criticism that visa-free entry will expose the country to international criminal syndicates and their activities. He said the new system offers better means of identifying and blacklisting undesirable visitors.

The PS also said Kenya hopes other countries will reciprocate the visa-free regime for its citizens. However, the benefits of an indiscriminate visa policy outweigh concerns of failure to respond in kind.
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