The newly introduced Electronic Travel Authorisation (ETA) has generated Ksh.159 million ($1 million) within just one week of its implementation in a bid to boost Kenya’s foreign exchange reserves.
Julius Bitok, the Principal Secretary of the State Department of Immigration and Citizen Services, revealed that Kenya has received a remarkable 32,000 applications from foreigners, with expectations of continued growth in tandem with rising applications.
“We have been able to generate $1 million in the last one week. This is a much-needed foreign exchange. The number of tourists coming has increased because we have made traveling to Kenya easy,” said Bitok during an assessment tour of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) to evaluate the rollout of the ETA program.
The introduction of ETA as a travel procedure aligns with global trends driven by security concerns and the necessity to obtain essential passenger profiles in advance, a practice already established in many Western countries.
Data from the Directorate of Immigration indicates that, out of the total applicants, 25,000 have already been cleared, with 110 applications rejected for security reasons.
The remaining applications are at various stages of processing. The ETA, replacing the traditional visa requirement for entry into Kenya, is currently under review to further streamline the application and approval process, reducing turnaround times.
In response to user feedback, the State has made adjustments to the ETA application process.
The initial requirement to attach personal bank statements has been dropped, along with other non-essential details, aiming to enhance the user-friendliness of the application form.
Kenya’s move to adopt ETA and phase out traditional visas is part of a broader strategy set to take effect this year, aimed at encouraging more visitors to the country.
The positive early results suggest that the streamlined travel process is resonating well with international travelers, positioning Kenya as an attractive destination and contributing significantly to the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
Stakeholders and industry players are optimistic about the continued success of the ETA program in promoting tourism and facilitating smoother entry for visitors to Kenya.