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Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala/CFM/FILE


UNIVISA uptake still slow in East Africa, says Balala

Tourism CS Najib Balala when he presented the tourism report on January 13, 2020 in Nairobi. /CFM.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – UniVisa travel document that was launched in October 2016, to ease tourist movement between East African countries has not picked up as expected.

UNIVISA is a Visa for three destinations; that is Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda.

Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Najib Balala says the responsibility has only been left for one country which can be a tedious process.

“The best people who promote UNIVISA are Kenyans where tour operators sell the region, unfortunately, our colleagues in the region do not sell Kenya,” said Balala.

Balala added that the government now wants to involve Tanzania to promote the document to enhance regional tourism.

“Anyone coming from a long-haul destination would want to do a combination of activities which are exciting, and I think when we bring Tanzania on board, it will be a complete equation to make this successful,” said Balala said.

The number of tourists entering Kenya through the region in 2019 declined to 467.1 thousand tourists compared to 535 tourists that came into Kenya during the period under review in 2018.

The CS was speaking on Monday, during the release of the Tourism Sector performance report 2019.

The report shows that earnings from the tourism sector increased by 4 percent in 2019 to stand at Sh163 billion compared to Sh157. 4 billion recorded in 2018.

Balala attributed the growth to increased international arrivals with many of the travelers within the age of 35-44.

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The CS also urged the industry heads in Kenya to watch out for some of the 2020 trends that seem to be the top interests for many tourists.

Some of the trends include the growth of free independent travel, which involves people aiming to travel alone for different reasons in search of freedom, personalized services, among others.

A search for novel experiences as the tourists’ are seeking leisure upgrade preferring tourism products that combine fun and opportunity for learning or self-improvement.


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