Daily Maverick (Johannesburg)

30 July 2014

Kenya's Tourism Crisis - Al Shabaab Hits Where It Hurts the Most

analysis

If the Kenyan government is to be believed, tourist arrivals are down a little bit on last year. Hotel operators tell a different story, speaking of a crisis rather than a decline. It's a potentially devastating blow for Kenya's economy. For this, Kenyan has got Al Shabaab and an increasingly misguided invasion of Somalia to thank.

There was some bad news this week for Kenya's tourism industry, a vital driver of the country's $41 billion economy (the Economist estimates that tourism provides up to 15% of GDP).

According to the state-run Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), international arrivals for the first five months of the year are down 4%, from 398,000 in 2013 to 381,000 in 2014. In other words, 17,000 less people have opted to travel to Kenya this year, largely as a result of travel warnings issued against Kenya by the UK, US and other western nations.

But this news is not bad enough, apparently. In a scathing attack, one of the country's major hotel chains accused the government of grossly misrepresenting the figures. Headed "4% DROP IN TOURISM! WE MUST BE JOKING!", the statement from Rosemary Mugambi, head of sales and marketing for TPS Eastern...

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