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Tourism earnings slump by 32 percent

NAIROBI, July 30 – The tourism industry is still experiencing massive losses, despite a spirited effort by the government to counter the negative effects of post-election violence.

Revenues for the first half of the year slumped by 32 percent as compared to the same period last year, posting a Sh11 billion loss.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Dr Ong’ong’a Achieng said revenues for the period stood at Sh23.12 billion compared to Sh34.08 billion for the same period last year.

In addition to the violence, Achieng said, other reasons for the losses were fluctuation and inconsistency of both the dollar and the shilling during the period.

Tourist arrivals dropped by 36 percent to 561,313 in the first six months, compared to 873,433 in the same period last year.

Top performing markets during the period were the United Kingdom with 42,141 arrivals, USA with 29,414 and Germany with 16,831 visitors.

Africa remained one of the strongest source markets for the country with total arrivals for the period in review recording a minimal drop of 10%.

However, Achieng gave an upbeat assessment of the way the industry was recovering.

"In the first half of the year 2008, the tourism industry managed to weather the post-election skirmishes to stay on its feet," he told a news conference.

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"We expect to continue with recovery activity until the end of 2009. Assuming political stability is maintained, we expect to have recovered to 2007 levels by the end of winter 2009/10."

He still maintains that full year earnings could fall to Sh50 billion from Sh65.4 billion in 2007.

The board had forecast a 10 percent increase in earnings in the first half, before the post-election violence in the first quarter.

KTB has spent Sh323 million on recovery efforts and plans to use up another Sh430 million provided by the government, plus a further Sh628 million funded by the European Union by the end of the year.

Earlier Wednesday, Tourism Minister Najib Balala named a new board for the marketing body with former Chair Jake Grieves-Cook maintaining his position.

The marketing body has been operating without a board for the last seven months after the previous board’s mandate expired in November.

According to a statement from the ministry, ‘the appointment of these new members is driven by the desire to have a pool of experts whose knowledge and experience will help the industry achieve the goals of Vision 2030.’

Other new boards also appointed include the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) Board, Kenya Tourist Development Board and Bomas of Kenya.

Each of the boards will serve three years.

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