In light of recent reports suggesting that Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) officials were harassing arriving tourists, returning Kenyans and other international visitors, at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary (CS), Dr. Alfred Mutua, and KRA Commissioner General, Humphrey Wattanga, today visited the JKIA on a fact- finding mission. The CS believes that the reports had the potential of tarnishing Kenya’s reputation as a tourist friendly destination and could hurt the industry which is a significant contributor to the country’s economy.
The CS and the KRA Commissioner General did a tour of the arrival terminals and saw first hand how those arriving are processed. They spoke to some arriving tourists, listening carefully to their stories and experience. Customs officials made it clear that the only time anyone arriving has their luggage checked is when it is suspected they are bringing in prohibited, taxable or contraband goods. The officials assured the CS and his entourage that they exercise uttermost diligence and courtesy in their dealings and any one employee who goes against the established procedures is dealt with as an individual.
The CS was also shown some of the items confiscated from travellers and these included phones meant for sale, guns, sex toys and even drones for which one requires a license.
The CS assured tourists of Kenya’s readiness to welcome them with open arms saying those coming in with personal items which they intend to use during their stay will not be required to pay any duty.
“In the spirit of ensuring that Kenya retains her status as a favorite destination for couples who want to get married, we will continue to ensure that what couples bring in for purposes of their marriage ceremony is not subjected to stringent taxation measures,” said the CS.
“We have also reached consensus with KRA that there is need to implement better training and guidelines for handling arriving travellers. We are also addressing any systemic issues that might have contributed to the reported harassment,” Dr. Mutua told journalists after the extensive tour.
The KRA Commissioner General, Humphrey Wattanga, said his officers were committed to civility and respect while handling visitors as KRA makes its contribution in ensuring that Kenya continues to be a welcoming and friendly destination.
The CS and the Commissioner General agreed that the law must be followed at all times and any arriving visitor or Kenyan carrying goods for which duty must be paid should be prepared to do so willingly.
The CS was accompanied by Principal secretaries, Sylvia Museiya and John Ololtuaa, of the State Departments of Wildlife and Tourism respectively.