Kenyan Tourism sector grows by 10.4% in nine months

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Source: The Star

The Kenya tourism sector recorded a 10.4 per cent growth in the first nine months of 2017, the government announced over the weekend.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said international arrivals have been witnessed more at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport Nairobi as compared to Mombasa’s Moi International Airport.

JKIA recorded a 11.1 per cent growth receiving 655,569 guests compared to 589,958 in 2016, whereas Moi Airport got 66,699 visitors compared to 65,600 in 2016.

“Mombasa grew by only 2 per cent,” said Balala.

Balala said the government will work on introducing incentives on investments to encourage new hotel investments across the region.

He said an investor who wants to put up a hotel facility will be given a five-year tax free break to help them recoup their capital.

“Nairobi has over 6,000 new beds. Mombasa has not seen new modern hotels coming up, therefore we will come with incentives to encourage investors,” he said.

On Saturday, Mombasa received on board MS Nautica cruise ship Marshall Islands in North Pacific Ocean.

Balala said they have a clear strategy on developing cruise ship tourism along the Indian Ocean circuit, which will benefit Kenya and the East African region most.

However, he blamed the contractor building the new cruise ship terminal at the port of Mombasa, saying they are taking too long to complete the works.

“Initially, we had agreed on August as the deadline. It was pushed to November. Now we are being told we will have to wait until August next year,” said Balala.

“This is unfortunate and disappointing issue. If we do not commit and have tangible programme, we will not be included in the cruise tourism circuit.”

This comes at the time when the Coast region has regained its confidence as a safe tourists’ destination, according to stakeholders.

Despite the pro-longed political season, international and local tourists are flocking down to the Kenyan coast this December holiday season.

Mohammed Hersi, the chairperson of the Kenya Coast Tourists Association and the Chief Executive of Sun Africa Beach Hotel said they expect a 100 per cent hotel booking.

He said international guests have confidence in the region, given the fact that two Neos charter planes from Italy, the Turkish Airline, Condor Air from Germany and and Tui Travels charter plane from United Kingdom are now doing trips to Mombasa.

Neos, Condor Air, Turkish Airline and the Tui Travels charter do at least two trips to Mombasa every week, which is a good sign of the improving sector that was once on its knees.

“Despite all the political challenges we have had, international visitors still have great faith in Kenya. Mombasa and Kenya Coast is bouncing back,” said Hersi.

Hersi said tourism has serious multiplier effect on the country’s economy.

“We should be grateful to tourism and diaspora remittance that helped our shilling in August, September and even October,” he said.

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