, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 23 – Close to 25,000 people have lost jobs in the last one year in coastal region owing to the travel advisories issued by western nations and still in force.
According to the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia, most of the hotels are operating at a bed occupancy of between 18 to 20 percent hence being forced to lay-off staff.
He laments that despite security having improved, the travel advisories continue to hold tourists back from coming to Kenya and especially the Mombasa and its environs.
“Our estimates now are looking at between 25,000 to 30,000 so far in Mombasa alone and it could be more as we progress. It’s almost a year since the cancellations began and with all those cancellations and no new bookings the situation looks pretty bad,” Macharia told Capital FM Business on Monday.
In May last year, four Western nations and which are Kenya’s key tourist markets issued travel advisories over insecurity concerns including the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and France
However during British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond’s visit to Kenya last week, UK pledged to have its advisory fully lifted soon. Even after it relaxed the travel advisory late last year, the UK still maintains restrictions to visiting Mombasa, Eastleigh in Nairobi and town bordering Somalia.
“We plan to properly market some of the great initiatives started by the government because we are running out of time and I think we should have done this in May last year,” Macharia said.
He says there is need for the country to promote domestic tourism but still maintains that Kenya is not in a position to depend on local tourists at the moment as this, “may not give us the one million tourists we need in a year.”
“We are very much aware as government that Mombasa is suffering and we know that every day we are losing numbers; we are losing jobs on the ground,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie lamented during the launch of the Online Tourism Directory on Monday.
“We are looking at this issue from a wider perspective. As long as the travel advisories are still there, it is going to be very difficult to sell Mombasa,” she added.
The new Online Tourism Directory, a project initiated by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) will involve having full data of all credible tourism products that exist in Kenya.
In the first phase, the online directory will include tourist Attractions, Accommodations and Tour operators while in the second phase pubs and restaurant, Tour guides and Travel Agencies will be included.