Kenya seeks review of punitive travel taxes


Kenya wants the United Nations World Tourism Organization to intervene and help end travel conditions by western states that act as barriers to growth of the tourism industry in developing countries. Tourism minister Najib Balala said the West is suffocating the developing countries through discriminatory taxes.

He said the Air Passenger Departure tax introduced by European countries such as the UK, Austria and Germany discouraged tourists from coming to Kenya and other East African countries. “What we need is support from the West and not suffocation. We are trying very hard to woo international tourists but our efforts are frustrated by the barriers,” said Balala. at the ongoing UNWTO conference in Mombasa.

The UK government charges a tourist up to £75 or at least Sh10,000 as APD tax to get to Kenya and the Carribean countries charging up to £95 or at least Sh12,800 to get to Kenya.

The APD tax is calculated according to distance travelled with the further one goes the higher the tax. It was introduced by European countries like Germany, the UK and Austria ostensibly to control carbon emissions by planes.

But critics of the tax complained that the it was a ploy by the UK and Germany governments to rake in more money with protests against moves to further increase the taxes reported in the UK and Germany. Balala said the taxes only serve to discourage tourists from visiting developing countries like Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda.

He said the government is committed to encourage tourists into the country and reducing visa tax by 50 per cent from 50 USD (about Sh4,250) to 25 USD (Sh2,125). He criticized the West for being quick to issue travel advisories to the citizens against developing countries only to delay their withdrawal.