, NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 25 – Tourism stakeholders are urging the government to reduce Value Added Tax and improve infrastructure in order for tourism to improve in Kenya.
Jumia Travel Country manager Cyrus Onyiego said restructuring of the taxation system applicable to the hospitality industry will bring more players into the tax bracket.
“The high taxes makes us hike the prices for restaurants and we find many people cannot afford so this makes tourism go down in one way or the other,” he said.
He said VAT charged in Kenya is far above the rates of other world tourism destinations and that makes it difficult for the local industry to compete in pricing with other countries.
Onyiego also says infrastructure is a major issue that should be addressed by the government because poor roads make it hard for tourists to travel through yet travelling by air is very expensive.
“For example going to Maasai Mara can be hard for people because we find the prices for using a plane is almost same as the accommodation fee there making it too expensive for people to travel there,” he said.
He was speaking at a conference they were giving a report on domestic tourism in Kenya. The report was from an analysis done on domestic tourism on key trends, as well as a panel discussion with players in the hotel sector done between 2015/2016, generated by hundreds of travellers on the platform.
The report indicated a rising need for hotel owners and tour operators to design products and packages for the emerging group of millennial travellers who may not be keen on luxury compared to convenience, budget and flexibility.
Onyiego cited lack of awareness and knowledge as a major challenge hampering growth in domestic tourism.
“Travel is still viewed as a luxurious affair, simply because the consumer has very little knowledge on the product.”
He called on stakeholders to come up with customised and personalised products for the market, keeping in mind the culture, lifestyle and budget needs for local travellers.
According to the Online Revenue Manager for The Panari Hotel Eugene Too, the lower gap in the current millennial bracket is very clear on what they are looking for; fun and adventure.
“It is therefore important for providers to mark up their facilities if they want to capture this growing market” he said.
His comments were reiterated the CEO Private Collections by Alfrida Boinett, who said any brand keen on building loyalty.
“This group of travellers are the future of the industry and therefore must be ready to accommodate them and grow with them,” said Boinett.