Tourism sector eyes 2018 recovery as industry posts Sh14 billion in losses

 

The tourism sector has posted Sh14 billion in losses over the past 4 years due in part to travel advisories brought about by terrorist attacks and Ebola-related scares in parts of Africa.

According to recent numbers from the sector’s ministry, Kenya’s earnings from tourism fell by 2.87 per cent last year to Sh84.6 billion. This is compared to Sh98.9 billion in 2011.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the sector was on course for a recovery in 2018, in line with government plans. He noted, however, that violent protests against IEBC, the country’s electoral body could put a dent in said plans.

“My concern is that, the efforts and the road map is working very well, I don’t want the political noise to interrupt that programme,” he said.

“In 2015 there was a general decline in performance from the key source markets,” he said, adding that there was, however, an increase in cruise-ship arrivals with 3,302 recorded in November/December 2015, compared to 362 in 2014.

Nonetheless, visitor numbers and earnings have plunged in the past four years as Al Shabaab militants from neighbouring Somalia launched attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Kenya’s military intervention. As a result, tourist arrivals fell from 1.8 million in 2011 to 1.18 million last year.

The Tourism Ministry said that there was a notable decline in 2015 from Emerging and New Markets, except the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

It has also emerged that Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) arrivals declined by 9.5 per cent in 2015 compared to 2014, while Moi International Airport showed a 35.5 per cent decline.

“Total international arrivals for 2015 by air and sea, showed a 12.7 per cent decline,” Balala said.

The Ministry also noted that Africa contributed 26 per cent of the total tourism arrivals in 2015, with South Africa and Nigeria showing positive growth.

There have been renewed efforts to revive the sector include boosting security, opening new source markets such as Nigeria and Poland and increased budgetary allocations to the sector. Visitors are expected to rise by a third this year to 1.6 million and to recover to 1.8 million in 2018, matching a record high set in 2011.

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