This week, Kenyan authorities announced that an agreement had been reached with the South Africa Government to ease off visa requirements for Kenyans travelling to the southern Africa nation.
The new arrangement will see Kenyans travelling to South Africa for business and academic purposes issued with multiple entry visas valid for up to 10 years while frequent travellers will be eligible for 3-year multiple entry visas effective December 1, 2018. Government officials travelling on official business to South Africa will be granted 3 months free VISA with immediate effect.
This announcement will come as a relief to many Kenyan travellers who have had to bear with the inconveniences of short term single entry visa and follows sustained pressure from key stakeholders including the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA). Bilateral discussions have seen both Presidents Uhuru Kenyatta and Cyril Ramaphosa discuss the issue extensively.
In the recent past, KATA has had a series of discussions with the South African Tourism Board and decision makers on the negative impact the SA visa restrictions was having on travel by Kenyans to South Africa for trade and tourism. Acknowledging complaints from travel agents that the visa rules were problematic to many travellers last year during a KATA Industry meeting, Ms. Bontle Madiba, Regional Trade Relations Manager at South African Tourism Board, assured them that all was being done to address the matter. “We are working very closely with the Immigration Department to have the Visa issues resolved. We are also aware that there have been concerns regarding travel with children which inconveniences many families due the stringent requirements by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” she added.
During the recently held South Africa Tourism and Travel Workshop in partnership with KATA, the Chairman of KATA, Mr. Mohammed Wanyoike reiterated the concern of the trade saying, “we look forward to the time when there will be ease of travel to South Africa once the tedious visa restrictions are resolved. This will see the growth of travel trade between the two countries, strengthening the ties that we already have.”
As KATA we strongly believe in open intra-Africa travel and our desire is to see more and more Africans travel across the continent to experience what Africa has to offer. “We are happy to see more and more African states lessening their visa restrictions and even going as far as issuing visas on arrival to African travellers. We want to ultimately see a Visa free continent that will promote travel for business, trade, tourism and education, “says Nicanor Sabula, CEO at KATA.
The first 7 months of 2018 has seen about 15,000 Kenyans visit South Africa and we would also want to see South Africans come explore Kenya. “We believe this numbers could double once the visa issue is resolved” added Ms. Madiba.
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