Kenya in 2023 announced it was implementing a visa-free policy for all visitors into the east African nation.
Last week the policy took effect, making it the first country to implement a visa-free entry scheme for all foreign travelers irrespective of their nationality.
The government was hoping the removal of the visa requirements for travelers would result in a surge in international tourism.
“We have made sure that traveling to Kenya is going to be an easy and pleasant experience. We have been receiving about 2 million tourists per year but we believe that with this policy shift, the numbers will double, to over 5 million per year,” Julius Bitok, immigration principal secretary said.
But the policy which was meant to significantly benefit African travelers and considered a pan-African oriented move seems complicated in procedure.
Kenya per the new policy now operates a cutting-edge electronic travel authorization (ETA) system, that has replaced traditional visas with a simple online application process.
It would cost people applying for entry a $30 processing fee and an entry experience for global travelers for a 90-day stay.
This requirement also applies to countries whose citizens previously had unrestricted access to Kenya and didn’t have to make some online submissions.
Backlash over implementation
Kenya is now facing a backlash over visa-free entry policy which some say is complicated and hectic.
Over the weekend, Kenya authorities said they had received more than 9,000 visa applications through the digital platform.
Some Africans have described the latest move as confusing and making traveling to Kenya tougher and expensive.
Kenya is not telling the world the truth when it says that it is now visa free, it is not!
It has in fact made traveling there more difficult for Africans who didn’t need a visa before, and I WON’T be going to Kenya unless if it is for work because of its new… pic.twitter.com/pMyukBVqAw
— Hopewell Chin’ono (@daddyhope) January 8, 2024
So until 24 hours ago, as a Malawian, I could just wake up, buy a ticket and fly to Kenya in the afternoon, visa free. Now Kenya has “removed visa” for everyone visiting Kenya, but now everyone has to pay $30 travel authorization fee 72 hours before travel. What? Hectic
— Jones Ntaukira (@realjonzz) January 7, 2024
There are fears this policy could be counterproductive, triggering a boycott by some foreigners.
The initiative was to boost the tourism sector and foster international relations, according to the Kenyan government.
Kenya earned $1.8 billion from tourism revenue in 2023, but officials are aiming for a $9.5 billion earning from tourism revenue annually with the latest entry policy.