Why Kenya’s new Electronic Travel Authorisation shows it is serious about boosting tourism

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In a recent move to boost its tourism sector, Kenya made headlines by replacing its traditional eVisa system with an Electronic Travel Authorization (eTA). This strategic shift has not only streamlined the entry process for international visitors but also puts Kenya firmly in line with international best practice and tourism industry standards.

Migrating to a new system is never without challenges and many are raising the important question of why Kenya has made this change. If we look at the wider tourism landscape and traveller behavior, this move makes complete sense for a nation looking to surpass 4 million travelers by 2027.

Since launching at the start of 2024, the Kenyan eTA has already generated millions in revenue for the government and has drastically reduced processing times from 14 days to just 72 hours, according to the Directorate of Immigration.

Perhaps even more importantly, the shift to an eTA directly addresses the central sticking point for travelers, namely, convenience. Global research has found that the vast majority of passengers do not want to wait longer than 10 minutes at border security checkpoints, while 27% would reconsider their destination if they anticipate a difficult arrival process.

The new Kenyan system provides a solution to both of those problems: significantly reducing queues on arrival while allowing passengers to conveniently submit all documents online, pre-travel. Furthermore, eTA systems are proven to excel over eVisa systems for multiple reasons:

● Simpler application: eTA systems require less information from the traveller upstream, enabling a much faster online application which is processed and reviewed in record time. The Kenyan eTA system also allows group applications for families and friends, adding an additional layer of convenience.

● Enhanced Security: Real-time data and insights to enable smart decision making, as well as advance visibility for Immigration and Border Officers. Knowing that all travelers have been screened in advance builds further confidence for tourists and positions the country as a safe destination.

● Efficiency on arrival: eTA systems mean that the majority of travelers enjoy an expedited, seamless entry process as they have already completed all of their border formalities in advance. Immigration Officers will be able to focus on the 1% that are potentially high-risk.

While Kenya might be the most recent country to shift to an eTA, it is far from being the only one to recognise the myriad benefits that the innovative system offers both the traveller and Government. Countries such as the USA, Australia and Canada have long standing eTA systems that provide facilitation and security benefits to millions each year. The United Kingdom launched its eTA system in late 2023 after multiple years of development, while the European Union is also set to introduce its eTA system next year, further solidifying the global acceptance of this travel authorization model.

In Africa, the Seychelles serves as a shining example of its positive impact. The archipelago was the first African tourism destination to recover from COVID-19, with a notable increase in tourist numbers, as well as an 84% reduction in queuing times on arrival, further demonstrating the effectiveness of eTAs in promoting tourism.

Kenya’s strategic shift to an eTA signals a serious commitment to boosting its tourism numbers and building Kenya’s reputation as a tourism leader to be contended with.

Article by Travizory Border Security

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