Kenya‘s Minister of Tourism, Najib Balala, has expressed concern over the delays in visa applications for Kenya. The government wants to solve this problem as soon as possible.
No more paper visas since 2021
Kenya has been busy modernising the country in recent years. This also affects the application of Kenya visas. At the beginning of 2021, Kenya switched over completely to a digital visa system. Paper visas can no longer be applied for and it is no longer possible to apply for a visa on arrival at the airport in Kenya. All visa applications must be made online before departure. This eliminates the need for a visit to the consulate, and average delivery times for Kenya visa have been greatly reduced. Kenya is now one of the few countries to have a fully digital visa system. The Kenyan government says that the switch to e-visas has improved the security situation in the country. Visa travellers can now be screened in advance, which makes it easier to deny unwanted persons access to the country.
The Kenya e-visa is approved within 8 working days on average, and even within 4 working days for urgent applications. The efficient e-visa system is used by the government to attract more tourists and business travellers as they can now easily apply for their visas online.
Delays in visa applications
Although the e-visa system has led to shorter visa delivery times, Minister Balala said there were relatively many complaints about delayed visa applications. Some travellers had to wait longer than 30 days for their visas. The news comes at an unfortunate time as Kenya seeks to attract as many tourists and business travellers as possible. Because of COVID-19, the tourism sector in Kenya has virtually collapsed. Visitor numbers have been recovering rapidly in recent months; the number of tourists to Kenya rose by 53% in 2021 and is expected to rise further, partly because more and more countries are relaxing COVID-19 measures. Yet Kenya is still far from its pre-coronavirus tourism figures. Minister Balala expects the number of visitors to Kenya to exceed 1 million in 2022 for the first time since the coronavirus.
The Kenyan government is working hard to attract tourists from more diverse countries. Currently, outside the African continent, Kenya is mainly popular with Western European countries, such as the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. The government now also wants to attract travellers from Eastern Europe. Especially Russia is a potential major source of tourists. Currently, relatively few Russian tourists go on holiday to Kenya. Minister Najib Balala wants to solve this by, among other things, offering direct flights from Russia to Kenya. The Kenyan government is discussing this with Kenya Airways, among others.