Tourism: Coast hoteliers plead for longer visa periods
Coast hoteliers have asked the State to amend tourist visa expiry periods to enable visitors to prolong their local stay.
In a press briefing in Ukunda, Diani Reef Beach Resort Managing Director Bobby Kamani said the State should adjust visa expiry date to six months so that hotels can reap more benefits from retirees who come to spend their free time in the country.
The three months inconvenience our visitors since they have to go back to their home countries to re-apply for new visas. “If we double the period, revenues will rise,” he said.
Early this year, the hoteliers, through the ministries of Interior and Coordination of National Government and Tourism, appealed to the government to review visa restrictions. “Since then, there has been no response,” says Resort Manager, Jotham Mwang’ombe.
Kamani’s sentiments were echoed by Sam Ikwaye, executive officer of Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, Coast branch, who said retiree tourism is a new, but popular product. “Many elderly from Europe consider coming to Kenya after retirement and the government should ease the visa renewal process for them,” he said.
While admitting that the government is strict on visa approvals due to security reasons, Ikwaye pleaded for special considerations for retirees who often come to relax for long periods.
Elderly guests are now staying in hotels for up to six months and even a year, which is good business for hotels. “Normally, they are being forced to travel back into their home countries for just renewal of visas,” said Joan Ndung’u, Residency Manager at Leopard Beach Hotel. The facility has15 retirees currently.