Kenya is positioning itself to reap big from growing intra-Africa travel

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala said Kenya’s tourism industry is increasingly reaping from the strong business, cultural and linguistic ties between African countries.

  • Kenya is looking to tap into growing intra-Africa travel to expand its tourism sector as African countries seek to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA).
  • Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala said Kenya’s tourism industry is increasingly reaping from the strong business, cultural and linguistic ties between African countries.
  • Last month Kenya and Ghana made history by becoming the first countries on the continent to submit legal instruments ratifying the Africa Continental Free Area Agreement.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 61st UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala said Kenya’s tourism industry is increasingly reaping from the strong business, cultural and linguistic ties between African countries that have made the intra-regional travel a vibrant growth market.

“In 2017, Africa accounted for 29% of international arrivals to Kenya. Indeed, Africa has shown great potential over the last five years gaining a 5% share of arrivals by region over the past five years. We believe Africa is the next frontier in the tourism business,”  said Mr. Balala.

The Tourism CS, who is also the Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa, credited this to Kenya’s increased investment in African markets such as Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Rwanda over the last 3 years.

“As part of that investment, Africans wishing to visit Kenya are now eligible to receive a visa on arrival. Kenya is now among 21 African countries which have either relaxed or scrapped visa rules,” said CS Balala.

Last month Kenya and Ghana made history by becoming the first countries on the continent to submit legal instruments ratifying the Africa Continental Free Area Agreement.

However, despite sharing boundaries, cultures and languages flying across Africa is still a cumbersome and costly affair.

Long delays and cancellations, limited connections, rickety planes, and dilapidated runways makes flying across the continent a nightmare.

The problem is further compounded by the restrictive regulations and protectionism that hinder intra-nation travel, leading African airlines to lose $800 million in 2016, according to the World Bank.

Last year, a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development report showed that between 1995 and 2014, while the total number of international tourist arrivals to Africa more than doubled, Africans accounted for only four in every 10 visitors.

This is however slowly and surely changing.

More than three decades after it was first proposed, African countries early this year finally adopted AU’s pan-African flagship project, Agenda 2063 and launched the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) to open African skies.

Since then African countries have moved with speed and relaxed or scrap altogether their Visa regulations.

President Uhuru Kenyatta during his second term inauguration ceremony announced that the country will scrap visa requirements for Africans in a bid to further promote integration, trade, security, and intercontinental travel.

For my fellow Africans, the free movement of people on our continent has always been a cornerstone of Pan-African brotherhood and fraternity,” he said.

“Today, I am directing that any African wishing to visit Kenya will be eligible to receive a visa at the port of entry."

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