The stakeholders say that Kenya’s domestic tourism sector is less supported, compared to the international component which has made it difficult for the sector to achieve its full potential.
National Chairperson of Domestic Tourism Association, Anastanzia Wakesho says if given deserving attention, the domestic market can keep the tourism industry afloat even in times of crisis affecting international travel.
Wakesho says the country’s tourism industry crumbles each time foreign tourists fail to visit, pointing out that the lack of a national policy on domestic tourism has stalled development of the sector.
“I appeal to the government to work closely with stakeholders in the domestic tourism industry by way of availing government programmes on local tourism marketing this year and going forward,” she said on Monday during a press conference in Nairobi hosted by the Universal Peace Federation.
Wakesho says the local tourism and transport industry deserves the same kind of State support and attention given to other areas such as infrastructure.
“Tourism directly employs over 500,000 Kenyans right across the country. The sector is a solid economic driver but unfortunately in the past two decades, the industry has suffered repetitive bouts of stagnation brought about by regional instability and waves of increased terrorist attacks in the face of little government support to buttress the sector from the domestic point of view, from such negative impacts,” she said.
This comes as Cabinet Secretary East African Affairs Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie announced that insecurity caused tourist arrivals to decline marginally in the 2013 calendar year.
Total international arrivals for 2013 by air and sea dropped by 11.7 percent to close at 1.09 million arrivals down from 1.23 million arrivals recorded in 2012 while Jomo Kenyatta International Airport arrivals dropped by 14 percent to 900,000 from 1.047 million recorded in 2012.
Tourism revenue in 2013 declined by 2.13 percent to close at Sh93.97 billion from Sh96 billion.
“Domestic tourism is about promoting our country to our fellow Kenyans, and there isn’t enough money going into branding and marketing emerging domestic destinations like Turkana, Marsabit etc. We could do with some assistance to promote our great assets to our countrymen,” Wakesho added.
Wakesho said she is working with community based ventures to identify more tourism programmes and package them for local consumption and urged for government support through national awareness about nature conservation and tourism.
“It’s important for Kenyans to get to see other parts of the country, but it’s also important to have institutional and formal state support for a domestic Kenyan tourism industry for the sake of our country,” Wakesho stated.