Tourism Cabinet Secretary and industry players have lauded the United Kingdom for removing Kenya from the travel red list.
The minister said the decision would boost tourism, a sector that has suffered heavily from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Great news! Kenya is out of the red list – UK Travel is back! Let’s support our economy by travelling,” Mr Balala tweeted.
He also urged Kenyans to stay safe and healthy by getting the coronavirus vaccine.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers chief executive Mike Macharia said the decision by Britain is “excellent news”.
However, Mr Macharia asked the government to reciprocate and review the rules for fully vaccinated travellers.
Kenya Coast Tourism Association CEO, Julius Owino, and Travellers Beach Hotel general manager, Hilary Siele, also praised the removal of Kenya from the controversial list.
“It is good news. The red listing was bad news for Kenya as a destination. There were many cancellations by would-be tourists from the UK and many other European countries,” Mr Owino said.
“As a destination and industry stakeholders, we have religiously worked within strict Covid-19 health protocols and guidelines.”
Hoteliers interviewed said local and international tourists will be safe in Kenya.
“The news is great. It will open up the UK and other key markets. We are. We are truly excited,” Mr Siele told the Daily Nation.
The hoteliers and tourism players asked the government to double its mass vaccination efforts. They said the campaign should also target workers in the industry.
The decision by British authorities comes as Kenya markets itself abroad as a tourism destination.
Mr Balala said Kenya has invested heavily in the vaccination drive.
He added that Kenya cannot afford to ignore the global tourism market.
“The industry is dynamic. Kenyans have been supporting our tourism through domestic travel but we need to revive the international market,” the CS said in Cape Verde in a recent interview with KTN.
He added that if all goes well, Kenyan tourism would bounce back to pre-pandemic times in 2024.
“Health is the first agenda on everyone’s mind when travelling. We need to vaccinate as many people as possible against coronavirus as those travelling to Kenya need to feel safe,” he said.
Top hotels in the Coast have been depending on conferences and local tourists since early last year when the virus was first recorded in Kenya.
British Airways has resumed flights from London to Nairobi