24 January 2013

Kenya: Kepsa Warns Over Election Effect On Tourism

THE business community a cautioning against a repeat of violent political confrontations witnessed in some areas during last week's nominations saying such events could cripple the already struggling tourism sector.

Through the lobby group Kenya Private Sector Alliance, the group noted that tourism which is highly dependent on a secure environment, registered a decline in numbers in the second half of 2012 and thus cannot afford further setbacks.

Kepsa said tense situations such as those witnessed during the nominations sent a negative message to the country's tourism source markets and a repeat should not be allowed in the main elections.

"Political maturity and security is important to the growth of the tourism and other economic sectors," said Kepsa chief executive Carole Kariuki.

The sector was one of the most affected after the 2008 election violence and came to a near standstill after visitors avoided Kenya.

Kepsa said the tourism sector's contribution to employment generation has grown by about three per cent annually and earnings per employee have been growing by 18 per cent over the last five years.

Tourism players have already rolled out plans to manage any crisis that could emerge during and after elections by placing some of their people on the ground in areas considered to be flash point areas to give updates in case of any changes to security situation so that tour operators can re-route visitors.

As a result of the 2007/2008 post election violence, earnings for the industry dropped by over 50 per cent in first quarter 2008 from Sh17.5 billion to Sh8 billion as foreign visitors were hesistant to tour the country as a result of insecurity.

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