UK retains travel ban on Kenya amid tourism season

UK retains travel ban on Kenya

The United Kingdom updated its travel ban list on Thursday and maintained Kenya on ‘Red list’ at a time when tourism in the country traditionally peaks.

The UK updated countries on England’s “Red List” amid concerns about the spread of new COVID-19 variants that have now been reported in Kenya.

It segmented countries into green, amber and red lists, each carrying different degrees of restrictions for arrivals back to Britain.

Travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the Red List are denied entry while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

A British citizen travelling from a Green and Amber List is not required to undergo a mandatory quarantine.

Kenya had earlier protested the ban having relaxed punitive requirements imposed on British citizens, which required them to undergo 14 days of isolation before entering the country.

It is a fresh setback for the hospitality industry at a time when tourism season in Kenya is usually at its peak (July to September).

Between the period (July, September) the world witnessed a spectacular scene of the wildebeest migration.

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The Great Wildebeest Migration, branded as Africa’s greatest wildlife manifestation, happens because of the change in seasons with millions of animals, mostly wildebeest and zebras, migrating from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Maasai Mara National Park where the grassland is much more fertile.

The latest move by the UK paints a clear picture of the worsening coronavirus situation where the country’s cases have been surging by double digits. The travel ban was first placed in April.

Major destinations

Kenya is a popular tourism destination for UK citizens who are atop list of countries which significantly contribute largely to the tourism sector.

According to the Tourism Research Institute report released this year, tourists arrivals in the country were 305,635 with the UK coming in fifth with 16, 264 arrivals.

The United States topped the list with 49,178 arrivals followed by Uganda (31,418), Tanzania (31,291), and China (18,069.

In 2019, the U.K emerged fourth in ranking, with tourist visits of 181,484.

However, the latest updated red list deals a further blow to the sector that has exercised endearing efforts for sector revival on the back of the ravaging coronavirus pandemic.

Kenya saw a significant drop in the number of international arrivals having registered a staggering Ksh.110 billion in losses in the year 2020.

The performance was against a projected Ksh.147.5 billion in revenues but only realised Ksh.37 billion in the wake of an unrelenting pandemic that has so far claimed 4,666 lives since March last year.

With international businesses now starting to kick off in the country due to the opening of foreign economies, the Ministry of Tourism has projected that the full revival of the sector to the 2019 figures is set for 2024.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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