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Balala says the continued political uncertainty could negatively harm the sector that has been recording huge improvements/FILE

Kenya

Poll jitters eat into tourism gains as slower growth expected

Balala says the continued political uncertainty could negatively harm the sector that has been recording huge improvements/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 3 – The tourism sector has grown by 10 per cent from January to August 2017, a reduction compared to the projected 20 percent growth by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

The slowdown is attributed to the ongoing political activity that led to slowed bookings and arrivals.

Balala says the continued political uncertainty could negatively harm the sector that has been recording huge improvements.

“I can’t predict how the market will behave now, because of the ongoing political climate, we are working hard on maintaining the current numbers despite the stalemate,” he added.

In the second quarter of 2017, statistics from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics indicate that hotel and food service activities recorded a growth of 13.4 per cent compared to 15.8 per cent growth in the corresponding quarter of 2016.

Visitor arrivals through the two main airports of Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi and Moi international Airport in Mombasa increased by 14.4 per cent from 186,685 in second quarter of 2016 to 213,543 during the quarter under review.

“This has largely been attributable to sustained improvement in security in the country and enhanced marketing efforts by the Ministry of Tourism and other actors in the tourism sector,” KNBS statistics indicate.

However, Balala bets on adoption the National Tourism Blueprint 2030 which the ministry is working on its implementation will safeguard the gains made so far after it was hard hit by insecurity especially after the Westgate Mall attack in September 2013.

He says the blueprint that was adopted by cabinet last week has four pillars that include product strategy, infrastructure strategy, investment strategy and marketing strategy.

The move is also aimed at improving the tourism products in a bid to enhance revenue in the sector.

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He was speaking during the launch of the 7th edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

In 2016, the sector recorded 17.8 per cent increase in earnings for the first time since 2012 to post Sh99.7 billion from Sh84.6 billion.

The number of international visitor arrivals rose by 13.5 per cent to 1.3 million in 2016 owing to improved security and successful high profile conferences hosted in the country.

Kenya is set to hold its presidential election on October 26 after the Supreme Court nullified the first election that was held on August 8.

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