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Ministry of Tourism looking up to the Middle Class To Revive Virus-Crippled Sector

NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 24 – Wildlife and Tourism Chief Administrative Secretary Joseph Boinnett says the ministry is targeting the domestic market with a focus on an estimated 1.02 million middle class people to jump-start the sector which has been severely hit by the COVID-19 pandemic travel ristrictions.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Tourism, Trade and Industrialization on Friday, Boinnett advised players in the sector to work on a new pricing model as existing packages are seen as too expensive for the target group which forms 37 per cent of the country’s employed population according to research findings published in July by the Kenyatta University-based Global Tourism Resilience Crisis Management Satellite Centre

“We are working together with players in the local hospitality and hotel industry to develop products that will attract domestic tourists, the first target to help the industry recover.”

“Domestic tourists are sensitive to pricing. A Kenyan will not pay 300 dollars to go to Maasai Mara when he or she can pay the same to Dubai. You cannot charge a room Sh15,000 per night for domestic tourists, we must re-think on product pricing,” he said.

The former National Police Service Inspector General said the tourism ministry is confident the strategy will reap benefits before tourists from the regional and international markets begin to arrive when Kenya re-opens its airspace to international flights on August 1.

Data from the ministry shows international arrivals totaled 2,048,833 in 2019 where the US was the top market source for Kenya, with arrivals at 245,437.

“We are urging for product innovation, good pricing for the domestic market products, digitization of the sector and gaining the trust of travelers through prioritizing their health and campaigns to re-assure the world that Kenya is safe,” Boinnet stated.

The CAS said the ministry is diversifying from the all to common marketing campaign where they target the beaches at the Coast and the Wildlife in the National Parks.

Boinnet told the Senate Committee that the new marketing campaign will capitalize on new circuits such as adventure tourism in Northern Kenya, sports tourism through golf, motorsport.

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Other domestic growth strategies to be executed by the Ministry include 1-week national holidays, holidays as non-wage benefits, organized road transports as part of the repackaged products.

He noted that since leisure activities were stopped, government statistics show the tourism sector lost USD 511 million in hotel room revenue, 36,800 jobs in the aviation sector are likely to be lost, MICE Sector could lose Sh163.6 billion while the Tourism Fund may lose Sh2.5 billion annual catering levy.

The Senators had invited the Ministry to share measures it has put in place to revive critical sectors which has reported numerous job losses and hotel closures after various states banned foreign and domestic travel as a one of the containment measures for the fast spreading COVID-19.

Boinnett chaired a multi-sectoral committee which drafted a raft of measures to help the sector recover.

Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner and contributes 10 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product.

This comes as small scale business in the industry petitioned the Senate to ensure the Ministry factors them in when distributing some Sh4.5 billion the government has set aside to restore destinations confidence to ensure that Kenya remains a preferred travel destination globally.

The Government has provided the Ministry with Sh500 million for marketing and an additional Sh4 billion will go towards 160 conservancy, support hotels refurbishment and marketing campaigns (Sh2 billion) and engaging community scouts (Sh5.5million).

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