tourism

Kenya tourism leaders to potential travelers: Elections won’t be a problem

July 6, 2022

The current political campaigns and upcoming elections in Kenya are not a problem for the tourism industry and tourism leaders are encouraging both international and domestic tourists to continue with plans to visit and travel within the country.

Veteran hotelier, Mohamed Hersi, who is also the Group Director of Operations at Kenya’s leading tour operator, Pollman’s Tours and Safaris, noted facilities in Nairobi are currently busy despite the political campaigning, signaling the country is stable.

“I must commend Kenyans, we are mature politically and we want to reassure the world that Kenya is peaceful. In the past, people would leave the country during elections but we are past that. We are confident the industry will remain stable,” Hersi said.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) chief executive, Julius Owino, said elections have always brought jitters and disruption to the business environment, however, it is important to note that 40 days to the election, the political engagements have so far been peaceful.

He has attributed this to strong institutions and respect for Kenya’s constitution.

“We have also watched the main political protagonists embark on issue-based campaigns with less rhetoric than before, the battle is about the economic models which is a total change of narrative. As tourism stakeholders we continue to call for peaceful political engagement,” he said.

He noted the industry is stable with hotels at the cost currently averaging 50-60 percent occupancy.

The Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) says the biggest concern regarding leisure tourism in Kenya is high inflation.

“The sector is okay in regards to the elections period but the main issue is the high cost of living,” KAHC executive officer Sam Ikwaye told the Kenya-based publication, The Star. “Covid which has affected travel and geopolitical factors that have also affected travel from key markets.”

He noted that most hotels at the coast and parks are currently averaging 50-60 percent occupancy.

Meanwhile, the industry players have called on the government to allow more airlines to operate directly to Mombasa which lies on Kenya’s coast. The Kenyan coast is one of the world’s leading beach destinations.

Both KAHC and KCTA are also in support of the policy saying it will make Mombasa more attractive.

“Currently we are facing competition from the likes of Zanzibar where tourists are flying directly from Europe. Give landing rights to other airlines and make the destination attractive,” Okwaye said.

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