TCB’s Miscellaneous Ramblings

Posted on June 27th, 2017
Categories: News

 Travel advisories are the bane of most developing nations, Kenya being no exception. Always viewed from inside the countries as ‘over-the-top’ with no clear vision and a way to pump the danger allowances for embassy staff based in said country. Viewed by the cretins that impose these advisories it is simply a way of protecting their citizens and making them aware of the dangers they perceive exist in said country. If they didn’t tell and something terrible happened they would be held to book, an I-told-you-so is a much better way of protecting ones rear-end.

None of this is news I know, but leads to my next story.

‘The European Parliament has voted to end visa-free travel for Americans within the EU. It comes after the US failed to agree visa-free travel for citizens of five EU countries – Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania – as part of a reciprocity agreement. US citizens can normally travel to all countries in the bloc without a visa’. (source The Independent)

This is no pithy travel advisory, this is very serious business. The numbers are staggering. 27.4 million American tourists visited Europe in 2016, with a spend in the billions of dollars (source statista). The US Visa Waiver Program for EU citizens is now expected to be scrapped in retaliation, which will negatively impact the impressive numbers of EU tourists visiting the US. Already down 12% (source affected mostly by uncertainty from the many Trump pronouncements on travel restrictions.

Add to this the laptop, electronic device ban from certain countries into the US (and less so into the UK) – which are now strongly tipped to be expanded to ALL flights into the US from wherever, in the very near future. Note: Flights from the US are not affected.

Some airlines such as Qatar Airways, Turkish, Emirates and Etihad offer an array of options to satisfy your electronic device ban withdrawals. Some supply replacement laptops or tablets on departure to all passengers, some just to premium passengers. Watching movies ho-hum. ‘How you can you get bored on our flights’ said one enthusiastic airline rep. We have over 300 movies onboard.’

You do indeed, but a lot are rubbish I replied. The never-say-die rep then said ‘Out of 300 surely you can find a few.’ Let me try I replied, maybe a free ticket to wherever might be an idea, so I can see for myself. Waiting for the phone to ring is a tedious task, but I live in hope.

What’s this world coming to?

We Kenyans need visas to almost everywhere so we are used to the application and demeaning vetting regime that goes with it. The visa application process is an undignified exercise, questions-questions and then even more meaningless questions. Bank statements and certificates of good conduct. ‘Do you want to live in my country?’ ‘No, I love Kenya, my life, my family are here.’ They are never convinced.

I can just imagine all these so-called first worlder’s applying for visas, something most of them have never done, they will tire and stay home, or hopefully visit Kenya where our visa regime for westerners is slick with not that many questions asked.

A local hotel group just sent me an email of their availability in the period June – August and I was surprised almost staggered to see most dates in the Mara sold out, ditto northern Kenya. At the coast it was a very different story. The best beaches in the world lie idle, devoid of any tourists.

You’ll have noticed in the News section of this edition Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Tourism telling all the movers and shakers of the UK’s tourism industry, that Kenya’s tourism marketing budget has increased three-fold to US$15 million per annum. I’m yet to see any evidence of this spend in our key source markets. Iko wapi?

This edition is all about lots of news and far to many book reviews I’ll agree, and only one real meaty story and it’s not even about Kenya. Seems that with the northern summer tourism boom (I use those word advisably) means there is no room at the inn for our team of writers, to well, write great stories about the very best of Kenya.

We’ll work around that going forward.

Uganda is taking advantage, that’s what that meaty article is about, in attempting to lure Kenyans to visit Uganda during our election period.

Looks pretty tempting to me, at anytime of the year for that matter.

The airport map shown earlier in this edition, has only one real change, that of the multi-story car park that became an international arrivals terminal after the fire, now getting its life back. I’m not sure if is open as we speak, but from what I saw last week it is pretty close to it. Which will no doubt relieve a lot of the parking issues at JKIA.

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