AMBER

Relief for tourism sector as UK removes Kenya from red list

The move to the Amber list will take effect from 4am on September 22.

In Summary
  • The UK moved Kenya from its Red List to Amber along with seven other countries –Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, and Bangladesh.
  • With the removal of Kenya from the red list to amber, UK travellers from or transiting through Kenya will be exempted from compulsory hotel quarantine
Tourists are welcomed to Moi International Airport Mombasa with madafu (coconut water) on October 12
Tourists are welcomed to Moi International Airport Mombasa with madafu (coconut water) on October 12
Image: CHARLES MGHENYI

The tourism sector can now breath a sigh of relief after the UK moved Kenya from its Red List to Amber.

The UK moved Kenya along with seven other countries –Egypt, Turkey, Pakistan, Maldives, Sri Lanka, Oman, and Bangladesh.

The move to the Amber list will take effect from 4am on September 22.

With the removal of Kenya from the red list to amber, UK travellers from or transiting through Kenya will be exempted from compulsory hotel quarantine, although they may be required to isolate for ten days and take tests.

When a country is on the redlist, travellers arriving in the UK from countries on the list are denied entry while returning Britons must submit to 10 days of mandatory quarantine in hotels.

UK nationals are barred from travelling to those countries.

“This changes mean a simpler, more straightforward system. One with less testing and lower costs, allowing more people to travel, see loved ones, or conduct business around the world while providing a boost for the travel industry,” said UK’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps.

Shapps said that the current traffic light system will be replaced by a single red list of countries and territories which will continue to be crucial in order to protect public health, and simplified travel measures for arrivals from the rest of the world, October 4 at 4am.

The secretary added that testing requirements will also be reduced for eligible fully vaccinated travelers, who will no longer need to take a PDT when traveling to England from  October 4.

Shapps said that from October 4, England will welcome fully vaccinated travelers from a host of new countries , who will be treated like returning fully vaccinated UK travelers, including 17 countries and territories such as Japan and Singapore, following the success of an existing pilot with the US and Europe.

Kenya was placed in the Red List in April following the spread of the contagious Covid-19 delta variant in the country, dealing a blow to the tourism sector.

The move to the amber list will now way ease travel restrictions for Kenya as it steps up its vaccination drive.

“Kenya is off the red list. I know how this has been difficult but our Kenya-UK partnership remains strong. Thank you, the Government of Kenya, for working closely with us over the past few months. The fight against Covid-19 is still not over, from vaccines to genomic sequencing – we will continue to work together to beat the pandemic.” said British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott.

Some of the countries that still remain on the red list include Rwanda, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Tanzania, Ethiopia, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe among others.

TRENDS

The heightened travel restrictions between Kenya and the UK in April led to a drop in international arrivals into the country, amid Covid-19 impact on the sector.

Pre-Covid, UK was the second overseas market source with 181,484 arrivals in 2019.

During the six months of the year reviewed by Tourism Research Institute, the UK came fifth with 16,264 arrivals , dropping from position two.

The US topped with 49,178 arrivals followed by Uganda and Tanzania which had 31,418 and 31,291 of its citizens visit Kenya, respectively.

China for the first time beat UK with a total of 18,069 arrivals.

“We can see the UK dropped to number five due to the effects of the unfair travel restrictions and putting Kenya in the Red list despite our Covid-19 numbers giving a different scenario,” Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala said.

The decision to remove Kenya from England’s “Red List” is expected to boost Kenya's tourism industry that earned Sh91.7 billion last year from Sh163.6 billion in 2019 as the coronavirus pandemic hit one of its biggest foreign exchange-earners.

COMMITMENT

The country's tourism sector through the Kenya Tourism Board(KTB) has pledged to continue upscaling measures that will ensure that the destination remains safe for visitors.

KTB Chief executive Betty Radier while lauding the move by the UK said progressive initiatives aimed at ensuring the destination remains safe for travellers will be enhanced.

This is why in 2020, the government through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife unveiled the Magical Kenya Tourism and Hospitality protocols which were reviewed in August of 2021 with the aim of ensuring that the industry continues to operate safely, and that visitors and citizens are protected against Covid-19,” said Radier.

Radier said the UK remains one of the top key source of visitors into the country and described the removal of Kenya on the Red list as timely as countries continue to open up for business.

Vaccination of Kenyan citizens and mostly in critical areas that interface with the public including the frontline workers in key sectors is seen as a major step in increasing confidence on the safety of travellers.

Radier notes that the measures have continued to be instrumental in instilling travellers’ confidence in the destination, with the assurance of a safe travel within the destination.