NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 10 – The tourism sector is recording cancellations of tourists following recent protests by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD).
Kenya Tourism Federation Chairperson Lucy Karume says the ongoing IEBC demonstrations are painting a bad picture and could be an epidemic to the already ailing industry.
“The recent spate of demonstrations and running battles with security forces during which a number of Kenyans unfortunately lost their lives, had images that found their way to the international media; the prevailing political climate and its potential negative impact on the tourism sector,” She stated.
Karume says May and June are the months of bulk bookings for the best season of the tourism sector which is from July until August and bad publicity could lower the number of bookings.
“We are appreciative to the government for the work that has been done, but let us not ruin those gains, there are different ways of negotiating what it is that you need, let the negotiations take into account all the other players in the market. We need to take cognisance of the fact that what you may do today is going to affect somebody else’s upkeep tomorrow,” he stated.
She welcomed the 2016/2017 budget citing the tax incentives given to the sector will go a long way in bring the sector to recovery sooner rather than later.
Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich on Wednesday announced that the government has cut VAT of national park entry fees as well as exempt commissions earned by tour operators from VAT.
“This is will now help us effectively compete with our neighbouring countries,” Karume stated.
Air passenger service charges for external travel rose from $40 to $50 and for internal travel from Sh500 to Sh600.
The revenue realised from the increase will be used exclusively for the promotion of tourism. In this regard, the National Treasury and the Ministry of Tourism will develop a Special Tourism Promotion Fund for this purpose.
“This is good news for the sector with the increase in air passenger service charges, we can predict how much we will have every year for marketing, all these will positively impact on the competitiveness of the tourist product Kenya is offering to its overseas agents,” she explained.
The tourism sector has undergone difficult times over the last four years due to security concerns.
Visitors statistics indicate that the coast has been most hard hit having suffered a decline of 76 percent in tourist arrivals in 2015 to 75,982 compared to 2005 278,021 which was a very good year.