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Tourism earnings dip further

NAIROBI, October 31 – The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) continues to report a reduction in revenues for the year. On Friday, KTB announced a 30 percent decrease in earnings between January and September this year.

The Managing Director Achieng Ongonga said revenues for the period stood at Sh34.53 billion compared to Sh49.25 billion over the same period last year.

Dr Ongonga attributed the loss to among other things the adverse effects of post election violence, high fuel prices for a larger part of the year, the credit crunch in the United States and general chaos in the global financial markets.

“2008 was a challenging year in the global travel industry as a result of increased fuel prices, unstable financial markets and the rising cost of inflation. In the US market, the credit crunch and the fluctuation of the US dollar against other currencies affected long haul travel,” Dr Ongonga said.

According to the Travel Weekly – a US based national travel publication – chaos in the financial markets may threaten the travel industry and especially the luxury travel segment as the security of Wall street jobs is at risk. The segment contributes 10 percent to the luxury travel segment.

Dr Ongonga however said that it was anticipated that the November elections in America may have a positive impact on the state of the US economy depending on the outcome and the stability of the markets.

At the same time Dr Ongonga said that even though the industry enjoyed high occupancies of up to 75 percent in the 1st half of 2007, such occupancies dropped to between 35 to 40 percent on average over the same period.

He however observed that between July and September (which is the safari season) an audit of hotels in the Maasai Mara circuit indicated an improvement in occupancies.

“In July the occupancy rate was at 75 percent while the August occupancy rate stood at 80 percent with the particular sample in question,” he said.

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During the period under review, the United Kingdom remained the top performing market with almost 43,000 visitors, followed by the US with about 26,000 visitors while Italy came in third with 13,105 arrivals.

KTB chairman Jake Grieves Cook supported Dr Ongonga’s earlier sentiments that the US elections may have a positive impact on the industry especially if senator Barack Obama wins the poll.

Mr Cook further re-emphasised the need for the country to continue aggressively marketing itself despite the ongoing recession.

“Tourism did not stop during the previous recessions of 1981-1982, 1990-1991 and will not stop now.  What will happen in the affluent source market’s is that they will reduce the period of stay of their visits and look out more for value for their money,” he said.

Mr Cook said the board was determined to aggressively market the destination despite the recession and was confident of reaping good results once the global economy recovers.


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