The government has so far received close to 9,787 Electronic Travel Authorization applications in the last one week following last year’s decision by the government to abolish visa requirements for all visitors coming into the country.
This is according to immigration principal secretary Julius Bitok who says that the new applications were made through the newly introduced government online portal.
Of the new applications, the PS added, 4,046 have already been processed while others are undergoing review on priority basis guided by the travel schedule submitted by each applicant.
The applications come just days after Interior cabinet secretary Kithure Kindiki last week gazetted the introduction of the ETA system to replace visa applications for travelers coming to Kenya.
Kindiki, in a gazette notice, said that the move was in line with last year’s decision by President William Ruto to abolish visa requirements for all visitors in a move geared towards boosting trade and tourism.
And in a statement on Monday, Bitok argued that the ETA system has become a much faster and reliable system owing to the large number of applications that the government had received in just one week.
“To boost tourism and attract more foreign investments to Kenya, the government removed all visa requirements for all foreign nationals visiting and transiting through Kenya from January 2024,” PS Bitok said.
“The vacated visa requirements have been replaced by the Electronic Travel Authorization (ETA) system. ETA is premised on the need to have a fair, faster and reliable system that also addresses Kenya’s security and other strategic interests,” he added.
Before ETA, citizens from 51 countries enjoyed visa-free entry to Kenya, while travellers from 155 other countries were subject to a visa application process at a cost of $50.
“This decision reflects our commitment to the promotion of an open, accessible and inclusive tourism and investment environment,” Bitok said.
The PS argued that ETA has introduced significant changes to the travel and transit experience for foreign nationals visiting Kenya in four fundamental ways.
Some of these include equal treatment and reduced fees, advance passengers’ information, reduced processing time as well as a dedicated ETA desk.
“We will continue to review and refine the ETA system to align it with our clients’ convenience and to support our commitment to make Kenya a natural home for visitors and investors,” Bitok said.