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Kenya yet to fully tap local tourism

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – The lack of a proper institutional framework to develop domestic tourism has been cited as one of the main causes of the low level of development of the industry in Kenya.
A new report prepared by the Domestic Tourism Strategy Taskforce has shown that even though local tourism is often quoted as a critical component in overall development of the sector, there is no cohesive framework within which to improve it.
“While clear and unambiguous references are made in the Vision 2030 on increasing international arrivals from 1.8 million in 2007 to three million by 2012 and raising their per capita expenditure from Sh40,000 to Sh70,000 no such reference is given to domestic tourism,” said the report which was presented to Tourism Minister Najib Balala who commissioned it in October last year.

The findings were prepared by a taskforce chaired by Peter Ngori which was established to explore strategic interventions for the development of domestic tourism in Kenya in anticipation of the declaration of 2010, as the “Year of Domestic Tourism”.

It identified eight key initiatives for the short term development of domestic tourism in Kenya and proposes that their implementation be targeted across three main avenues including institutional reform, consumer education and awareness and trade development.

“Dependence on international tourism has made Kenya vulnerable to seasonal nature of the overseas source markets as well as adverse impact on the earnings due to foreign exchange fluctuation,” the report pointed out.

In regard to institutional reforms, the report called for the immediate establishment of regional tourists’ boards with clear and deliverable performance targets on domestic tourism as proposed in the National Tourism Policy.

The establishment of at least one tourists’ information office in every province is another idea that was put forward as was the documentation and packaging of the wide range of tourist products to suit the domestic market.
 “In addition, bad publicity and growing competition for overseas tourists from other long haul destination makes the need for a fresh approach to domestic tourism more critical,” it further said.
According to the Ministry of Tourism Strategic Plan (2008-2012), only about 30 percent of the recorded bed nights are attributed to domestic tourists against a target of 50 percent by 2012. The limited of awareness of the vast range of products and prices has also created the perception that tourism is prohibitively expensive.

The taskforce also proposed the promotion of small and mid-sized establishments to cater for people of different economic classes and offering commensurate services with other high end establishments. It also suggested targeting the rising number of Kenyans who are able to afford the vast range of tourism activities and experience.

The release of the report came a few days after the Kenya Tourism Board disclosed that it would soon roll out a campaign strategy that would see it encourage more domestic visitors to tour the country which would go a long way in assisting the sector to reduce its dependence on foreign tourism.

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