The tourism situation in Kenya keeps getting worse and worse due to the insecurity threats that have caused tourists and visitors that would otherwise be visiting Kenya to choose other destinations that they believe are much safer.
According to Agatha Juma the chief executive of the Kenya tourism federation, the insecurity in the country has led to a major decline in tourist and hotel bookings. Hotel bookings are reported to be below 15% in the coastal region, which is usually such a popular area. The current state of affairs in Kenya is just not conducive for the growth of the tourism industry. And the consequences of the slump in Kenya’s tourism are affecting not just tour operators and hotel owners but government revenues as well since tourism is a major contributor to the country’s GDP.
The rising insecurity in Kenya following terrorist attacks last year and this year all linked to the Al shabab terrorist group have damaged the tourism sector to some extent.
The low tourist numbers have resulted in the closing of over 20 hotels across the country. Other hotels a have scaled down operations because they are not earning enough to support full scale operations. All this has resulted into over 3000 jobs lost. March to May being the low season, a number of high end-hotels in Malindi and Watamu have decided to close shop still in a bid to minimize costs. They hope to reopen during the peak season around July.
Some stakeholders in the Kenya tourism industry believe the tourism slump is because of two reasons, the insecurity, and the value added tax act 2013, which led to the increase in costs of living thus making tourist destinations in Kenya expensive and driving tourist towards cheaper destinations. Tanzania safaris seem to be in higher demand now since it’s considered much safer and cheaper than Kenya.
According to Juma, Kenya is still one of the most beautiful tourists destinations and what it needs is a full market recovery which she estimates will cost about one billion shillings. Recommendations to this effect have already been made.
Kenya took part in South Africa’s tourism and travel festival in Durban this past weekend. The indaba festival is meant to give African countries a plan form to showcase and promote their tourism to the other African countries. Kenya which has invested quite a lot in the promotion of its tourism sector took part, and so did Uganda and Rwanda. Hopefully these extensive efforts to market tourism in Kenya will have some positive results.