16 May 2014

Kenya: Tourism Sector Loses Sh5 Billion in Travel Cancellations

Photo: Capital FM
Tourists at the Maasai Mara in Kenya (file photo).

Nairobi — The tourism sector has lost Sh5 billion so far following cancellations that have been made between now and October 2014 owing to the travel advisory issued by four western nations.

Stakeholders are now urging the government to intervene as the ongoing travel advisories will destroy the tourism industry.

Speaking to Capital FM Business, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Chief Executive Officer Mike Macharia says now about 900 tourists have left the country and there is need to salvage other bookings for the peak season in November.

He has urged the government to engage the British foreign office in bid to lift the ban.

"If nothing happens we can kiss tourism goodbye and we can go back to the drawing board, Britain, Australia, France and their United States source markets form part of the core tourism suppliers, if any of these is affected it has such a huge impact on tourism revenue ," he said.

The UK this week issued a travel advisory to its citizens against unnecessary travel to Mombasa following recent attacks and the continuing terrorist threats in the area.

The UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) said the advisory includes Mombasa island and within five kilometres of the coast from Mtwapa creek in the north to Tiwi in the south excluding Diani or Moi international airport.

UK citizens have been urged to leave the area unless they have an essential reason to remain.

"What they are calling an advisory is not really an advisory if you land in Mombasa International Airport where they say it's safe, then you can't move out of the airport that is like imposing a ban, because they are saying Diani is safe... so do you expect people to get to the Mombasa International Airport then jump over to Diani. It's not possible it's a cheeky way of wording a travel advisory but in fact what they mean is a ban," he said.

Kenya Union of Domestic Hotels Secretary General Robert Njeru told Capital FM Business that more than 30 hotels have already been closed in Mombasa affecting about 100,000 employees.

"If the visitors are not coming to Kenya we are going to get mass unemployment, as more hotels will be closed. It's a high time the government takes action about this insecurity," he said.

According to Moi International Airport manager Yatich Kagongo 236 tourist who were on holiday were evacuated on Thursday night while the remaining 256 left on Friday for the UK.

Insecurity caused tourist arrivals to decline marginally in 2013 according to the tourism sector performance as international arrivals by air and sea dropped by 11.7 percent to close at 1.09 million arrivals down from 1.23 million arrivals recorded in 2012 while Jomo Kenyatta International Airport arrivals dropped by 14 percent to 900,000 from 1.047 million recorded in 2012.

Tourism revenue in 2013 declined by 2.13 percent to close at Sh93.97 billion from Sh96 billion.

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