Kenyan immigration officials had to be the odd man, or in this case woman out, when on the trot introducing new rules regarding a multiple re-entry on a visa, as practiced in the past dozens of times.
Pay 50 dollars, get a visa and come back to Kenya several times for the duration of three months from within the member states of the community that was the way things were. Not this time though. The young lady had in fact the guts to state that all her colleagues who in the past applied this rule, erred in doing so as “you foreigners have to pay our visa fees.” When challenged to answer when these rules were changed, no substantive response was received but for a stark utterance that “things have changed since Westgate.”
Really? Have immigration rules changed since those tragic events? Kenya has in the past granted free re-entry to visitors when travelling to another country in the region, and if so, when and where is the gazette notice? My visa was issued on July 25, was due to expire on October 24, the very day I am booked to leave, and of course it clearly reads 3 months, not weeks.
Kenya Airways, as usual, did a sterling job to deliver me ahead of time, their staff meeting the aircraft on the tarmac in Nairobi oozing smiles and provided answers to countless questions from transit passengers flying beyond Nairobi, customs were certainly more vigilant than in the past but courteous nevertheless and my Kenya Tourist Board “minder,” too, flashed those perfect smiles Kenyans are known for. The staff at my hotel, starting from strict but again smiling security to the front desk and on to their unique “Brand Ambassadors,” were on top of their game and so were the drivers later today, talkative, friendly and appreciative of people continuing to come to Kenya.
Were it not for my generally friendly disposition towards Kenya, I’d be raising a much bigger fuss about the faux pas by that immigration official, who refused to acknowledge that all past visas were given for 3 months AND had multiple return stamps on them. Who cares for evidence, guilty as charged, pay up or else.
Under present circumstances, such rotten apples ought to be swiftly identified, removed and perhaps tasked to watch a filing cabinet in the deepest archives, where she can command dust specks but not come into contact with travelers who, especially at this time, keep coming to Kenya, and in my case, come to Kenya to write positive reports. There will no doubt be plenty of those positive events over the coming 10 days but this had to be said, ranted in fact, and sharpish.
Now moving on swiftly swiftly to forget about that episode and I do look ahead to a great week of interaction, experiences and of course the World Travel Awards, the long awaited MICE Seminar and that Magical Kenya Travel Expo during which I hope to get an even better measure of things, gauge opinions, spot undercurrents and get all the facts as to where Kenya Tourism presently stands and where it is heading to.