East African countries are putting a lot of effort into promoting and boosting their tourism sectors. Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda have each allocated substantial amounts of money to fund and facilitate the tourism sector. However Kenya, whose tourism industry has been dealt some very devastating blows recently, has not directly allocated any funds to tourism.
One would expect the country whose tourism has suffered the most to be the first to direct funds to boost the sector but that is not the case with Kenya. While Rwanda has allocated Rwanda has allocated Rwf2 billion ($2.9 million) for tourism development, Tanzania Tsh14.198 billion ($8.87 million) to the natural resources and tourism sector for development projects while Uganda’s tourism, wildlife and antiquities sector has received Ush11.3 billion ($4.6 million) and Ush5 billion ($3.9 million) has been allocated to Uganda Tourism Board for promotion, training regulation and infrastructure development, Kenya’s budget is the only one which has no direct allocation of funds to Tourism.
Experts such as Deloitte have criticized the Kenya budget which in their opinion is very silent on the tourism sector and yet it is a very
important contributor to the country’s revenue. After the terrorist attacks, and the travel advisories that followed, tourism in Kenya has been on a steady decline with the number of Africa safaris to Kenya reducing and tourists cancelling trips to the popular safari destination. Tourism contributed about 14% to Kenya’s GDP, so given recent events, a few tax incentives and other funding should have been directed to the industry to facilitate a boost.
Rwanda for example has granted tax exemption to game driving, tourist guiding, animal or bird watching, water safaris, tour ground transport and tour charter services. Rwanda seeks to expand its Kigali International Airport, Kamembe and Rubavu and construct the Bug sera Airport.
Tanzania on the other hand, has set aside funds in the next financial year for upgrading of Bukoba, Shinyanga, Mwanza, Kigoma, Mpanda, Tabora, Mafia, Arusha, Mtwara and Kilimanjaro airports. According to Tanzania Minster for natural resources and tourism Lazaro Nyalandu, Tanznai is gearing up for dramatic measures to promote tourism in Tanzania come July.
Although Kenya came up with a few measures to boost tourism such as allowing corporate and business to pay vacation expenses for their employees and have those expenditures deducted from their taxes, experts say that such measures cannot be effective without laws in place to support them.
Kenya however did allocate some funding to infrastructural development to facilities that support tourism such as Ksh1.65 billion ($18.9 million) to upgrade Kisumu and Isiolo and construct three new airports in Malindi, Mandera and Suneka. There is reason to believe that Kenya has a solid plan to boost its tourism sector and get its market back.