There is a surge of Kenyans traveling to other countries


Traveling abroad is a dream for many people, especially after the pandemic that disrupted the global mobility and tourism industry. For Kenyans, this dream seems to be coming true, as there is a surge of Kenyans traveling to other countries in 2023.

According to VFS Global, a visa outsourcing and technology services company, visa application volumes in Kenya have more than doubled in 2023 compared to 2021, indicating a high pent-up travel demand. The company attributes the increase in international travel to the opening of international borders, easing of travel restrictions, and the desire for ‘revenge’ travel among Kenyans who want to make up for the lost time during the lockdowns.

The main reasons for outbound travel from Kenya are tourism, family visits, educational and business trips, according to Hariprasad Viswanathan, Head – Sub Saharan Africa, VFS Global. He also advises applicants to apply for their visas as early as possible and to check their passport’s validity before planning an international trip.

But where are Kenyans traveling to? Based on the data from the World Bank, the number of international tourists arriving in Kenya has declined from 2.02 million in 2019 to 1.14 million in 2020, due to the impact of COVID-19. However, the number of Kenyans traveling abroad has increased from 481,000 in 2015 to 535,000 in 2020, and is expected to rise further in 2023.

The top destinations for Kenyan migrants abroad are the United States of America (157,000), the United Kingdom (139,000), Uganda (34,000), Canada (29,000), Mozambique (25,000), Australia (25,000), United Republic of Tanzania (24,000), South Africa (20,000), Germany (17,000), and South Sudan (10,000). These countries offer various opportunities for education, work, business, and leisure for Kenyans.

The most popular region for Kenyan migrants is Europe and Northern America, with 374,000 Kenyans living there. This region also attracts the most visitors from Kenya, with over 210,000 tourists from Kenya arriving in the United States and over 151,000 tourists arriving in the United Kingdom in 2019.

However, not all visa applications are successful. The most common reason visa applications get rejected is due to incorrect or insufficient information provided by the applicants. VFS Global does not decide on the visa applications, but only facilitates the process by collecting the documents and fees and submitting them to the respective embassies or consulates. The final decision is made by the embassy or consulate of the destination country.

Therefore, it is important for applicants to carry all the required documentation, including a printout of the checklist, to submit along with the duly filled application form. They should also check the visa processing timelines and appointment availability on the VFS Global website before applying.

Traveling abroad can be an enriching and rewarding experience for Kenyans who want to explore new cultures, learn new skills, or reconnect with their families and friends. With proper planning and preparation, they can make their travel dreams come true in 2023.

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