Tourism Principal Secretary John Ololtuaa announced measures to attract foreigners to continue conducting weddings in Kenya, especially during the December festive period.
The PS explained that the ministry was working towards ensuring that tourists visiting Kenya are not harassed at the airports but pay customs duty as required by the law.
Ololtuaa was addressing a concern raised by stakeholders in the tourism industry on how foreigners are avoiding Kenya owing to government measures put in place to collect more revenue at airports.
According to the stakeholders, about 200 Indians who will be arriving in December for a nuptial hope to enjoy a smooth entry at the airports at a time when Kenya will be receiving an influx of visitors.
"200 of them will come to the country, and you know Indians, they will be donned in gold. PS I ask that you intervene so that they do not have a rough time at the airport," Victor Shitakha, the Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chair, stated on Friday.
Shitakha spoke at a rebranding event for the PrideInn Hotels, Resorts, and Camps event in Mombasa.
In his response, Ololtuaa revealed that the ministry was working with the Attorney General, the Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA), and the Department of Immigration to draft a way to grow wedding tourism in Kenya.
His feedback was also aligned with a debate that ended after a Ksh300,000 wedding dress was confiscated by KRA at JKIA early this month.
According to KRA, the couple, a Kenyan woman and an American man, were in possession of a dress that cost more than the set Ksh75,425 (USD 500) allowed for duty-free items.
"We are pleased to inform you that the couple, upon understanding the tax requirements, paid the necessary taxes and complied with the regulations. We are grateful for their cooperation," KRA defended itself and explained that its officials were advised to refrain from harassing tourists.
Meanwhile, the PS also touched on eVisa applications, adding that more measures will be implemented to boost the tourism sector. Kenya, according to the PS, aims to attract about 5.5 million tourists by 2027.
"The ministry has started to map out all tourist attractions in the country. We will do this through the Council of Governors and look at the 47 counties to see what they offer," he stated.
He explained that once identified, the areas will be developed and renovated to appeal to tourists.
On the rebranding of the hotel, Hasnain Noorani, the Managing Director of PrideInn, stated that they were diversifying to exploit untapped markets and customize potential areas of growth.
"Today, we are ushering in a new chapter to modernise the brand and align it with current consumer preferences. This sets the stage for further expansion of the hospitality group.
"We also plan to diversify our product offerings to explore emerging tourism segments such as sports, wedding, and food tourism, based on successful tests done within our units and market studies indicating potential for growth," he stated.