Kenya’s coast tourism to grow in 2016 despite poll jitters, say analysts

MOMBASA: Industry analysts have predicted a robust recovery in tourism in Coast region this year.

They further say that recent policies and incentives implemented would cushion the industry from jitters about the 2017 General Election.

Traditionally, fear of political instability in the run up to elections has spurred a slow down in tourists visiting Coast, Kenya's key tourist catchment area.

Additionally Kenya's tourism, especially at the Coast which accounts for 60 per cent of all arrivals, suffered near collapse with the rise of sea piracy in the Indian Ocean about five years ago and terrorism two years ago.

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But now Coast tourism industry players predict tremendous recovery of the sector in 2016, saying adequate measures have been put in place to absorb negative impacts of expected heightened poll campaigns.

The stakeholders said incentive programmes announced last week by the Government, the lifting of travel advisories by European countries and the creation of a standalone ministry to market the country would cushion the sector from effects election campaign.

Yesterday, some hotels announced huge budgets for renovations anticipating a spillover of business from global conferences.

Conferences scheduled to be held in Nairobi this year include Tokyo International Conference of Africa Development TICA for Africa, and United Nations Conference on Trade and Development slated for July 17 to 22.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch Executive Officer Sam Ikwaye said incentives announced last week by the State to run until 2018 would assist the sector to mitigate the negative effects of elections.

"It (political campaigns) has been the biggest challenge but this year measures are in place and we don't think that will adversely affect international arrivals," said Mr Ikwaye.

He said international travel agents continue to strike deals with Coast hotels to book space, and activities had not whittled due to expected poll campaigns.

He said other travel agents struck deals with hotels for this year during the Magical Kenya Travel Expo held in Diani Kwale in September last year.

"We expect a better first quarter compared to last year. We have set aside Sh1.25 billion for partial renovation of our facility. This tells you the optimism in the industry," said Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort and Spa General Manager Raj Jadhav.

Last week, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala unveiled a Sh1.2 billion Charter Incentive Programme for Kenya aimed at reducing tourist costs and recovering lost business from tourist charter companies.

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2017 General ElectionKenyatourism