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Tourists at Kenyan coast/FILE

Kenya

Tourism sector wary of polls during high season

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 4 – Tourism sector players have now opposed plans to hold general elections either in August or December, arguing that both are peak tourist months.

Chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association, Mohammed Hersi argues that holding elections at either of these times could scare away tourists.

“If the country holds elections during these dates and we revert to what happened in 2007, then the sector could be ruined. It has taken a long time to reach this stage and we do not want to go backwards. We need to move forward,” Hersi affirmed.

The Constitution sets future general elections in August, while the government is pushing an amendment so that elections are held in December.

Speaking to Capital Business, Hersi also said the sector had been performing well last year and he believes that it has surpassed its targets of Sh100 billion in earnings.

“The depreciation of the shilling last year made sure that tourists spent more as they were spending in foreign currencies. Which for us translated into, more foreign currency in the market and thus, more tourists equalled higher returns for the country,” he said.

Hersi added that the country is now receiving even more international tourists arriving on chartered flights which now stand at 40 flights a week, with another one from South Africa set to start flying into Mombasa by the end of the month.

Bed occupancy at the coast stood at 70 percent during the Christmas period but all hotels were overbooked for New Year festivities.

He was however very optimistic that the country may have achieved its target of receiving 1 million tourists into the country last year.

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