Kenya Launches Initiatives to Kickstart Tourism
Photo by David Cogswell
After several setbacks resulting from highly publicized incidents of violence as well as the Ebola scare of 2014, Kenya’s government is launching a set of initiatives to help restart its struggling tourism industry.
At a time when terrorist attacks are putting a damper on tourism even in such a familiar stomping ground as Europe, Kenya is even more vulnerable because Americans tend to be very jittery about traveling to Africa. The slightest indication of bad news can decimate tourism across a wide swath of the continent.
Once the most popular safari destination in Africa, Kenya has lost ground to neighboring Tanzania as well as South Africa and a whole slew of emerging destinations charging into the tourism market in recent years, such as Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Uganda and Rwanda.
Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the new series of initiatives, including the following.
The government is subsidizing the charter air industry in Kenya with a new $11.7 million program that let the airlines land in the coastal cities of Mombasa and Malindi at no cost. And furthermore, the government will pay the airlines $30 toward the passage of every passenger they bring to Kenya. The arrangement will be in effect until June 30.
After instituting a simplified e-visa application program last year, Kenya is now dropping its $50 visa fee for children under 16 years of age.
The Kenya Wildlife Service has reduced its national park entry fees from $90 to $60 and has removed the VAT charges from the fees.
The government is also making several infrastructural improvements aimed at facilitating improved transportation and improving the tourist experience. Expansions are planned for the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and the Malindi Airport in Southeastern Kenya near the Indian Ocean.
A new highway construction has begun for the Port-Reitz Mombasa Road and the Dongo – Kundu Bypass which will make it possible to visitors to travel to Diani Beach on the Indian Ocean coast in Southern Kenya without having to travel via the ferry.
The Kenya Ferry Service will operate two new ferries at the Likoni Channel crossing between the island city of Mombasa and the mainland town of Likoni.
At the President’s announcement of the initiatives at the opening of Mombasa's English Point Marina, Kenya’s first luxury yachting marina, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala said, “The government is fully behind our ambition to restore Kenya’s tourism crown and we ask all tourism stakeholders to respond to our initiatives with the seriousness they deserve. It is time to maximize the heritage and natural gifts we possess and give the world’s travelers the experience they deserve.”
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