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Visa and park fees debated at Euromoney conference

NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 25 – Reduction of the cost of tourist visas and the recently hiked park fees in the country generated the most debate in the tourism session of the just concluded Euromoney Investment conference.

Industry players were skeptical of the move, saying it was bound to reduce the country’s revenue from tourism, in reference to a recent announcement by Tourism Minister of a 50 percent reduction in tourist visa and a waiver for children under 16.

“This is part of our plan to help the sector considering it has so far only recovered 68 percent,” Mr Balala explained at the conference.

However, tourism stakeholders were also critical of another move to hike park fees in the midst of the global recession.

“Fees for some of the parks had to go up from $40 to $60 to meet the expensive management and conservation costs,” admitted Mr Balala at Wednesday’s Euromoney session. “But we still are fair compared to our competitors.”

Tanzania charges $60 for entry to their parks while Rwanda charges $500 per hour in their gorilla parks.

At the same time Mr Balala revealed that the draft Tourism policy was at the Cabinet level and should be ready for presentation to Parliament anytime soon.

However debate abounds on whether the policy will provide adequate legal backing to better address the controversial issue of product pricing by tour operators abroad.

A representative of the Kenya Tourism Federation Adam Jillo had raised concern that there was a lot of undercutting of prices by tour operators abroad

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“Our work as government is not to control prices but standards and so despite this new policy coming to place we have to live that to the market to do,” the Minister said 

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