Kenya tourism industry has been hit hard last couple of years due to security fears following a series of terrorist attacks. The situation has improved since, and UK and US have lifted most of their travel warnings to Kenya. Recent high profile visits by Barack Obama and the Pope have further helped in restoring confidence in Kenya as a safe destination. To boost renewed interest in Kenyan tourism, the Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta announced lower National Park fees, and waiving of visa fees for visitors under 16.
The waiving of visa fees for children is a smart move in luring families to visit Kenya, in contrast to South Africa, where under new rules complex paperwork is needed for underage visitors. The new Kenya visa rule will be effective beginning February 1, 2016. Due to E-visa system introduced last year, most families travelling to Kenya in near future have likely already applied for their visas, and paid for them. So they’ve ended up wasting money on children’s visas paid already. Rushed implementation with visa issues is nothing new in Kenya. The quick abolition of visa on arrival in favour of E-visa did not really work. In fact, visas can still be obtained on arrival at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta Airport.
Maximum park fees will be lowered to 60 USD per day, currently some parks charge hefty rates up to 90 USD per day. Those who have paid for their pre-booked tour will be lucky to get any refund even if the park fees have been lowered since.
Last month, the newly appointed tourist minister Najib Balala announced temporary waiving of landing fees for charter flights flying to Mombasa. This move is expected to bring back charter airlines that previously flew to Mombasa, as well well as attract new ones.
Yet more positive news for tourists in Kenya is increasing airline competition, which makes the cost of flying cheaper. Traditionally air travel in East Africa has been excessively expensive, this is set to change now. The entry of Kenya Airways low-cost subsidiary Jambojet has already seen significant price reduction in domestic air travel (read our story on Jambojet flight to Ukunda/Diani Beach). In addition, Tanzanian low-cost carrier Fastjet has finally got landing rights to Kenya and it started operating from Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro to Nairobi earlier this week. Furthermore, Fastjet has already stated their intention to start Nairobi – Zanzibar and Dar Es Salaam – Mombasa routes, both of which would be very interesting from tourist point of view. Once Fastjet enters Kenyan domestic market and Jambojet starts flying to regional destinations, prices are likely to fall further.
Now it is surely a good time to plan visiting Kenya, as there are still relatively few visitors coming there, so you can enjoy peaceful holiday without the destination being packed with tourists.