Stakeholders in the tourism industry have expressed optimism that the peaceful conclusion of the General Election will bring good tidings to the sector.
In interviews with Weekend Business, tourism players said they were happy that the tension that preceded the polls has subsidized.
“While the famous Masai Mara and most game lodges have had some tourists sneaking in for holiday, the entire Coast region has been starved of tourists,’’ said Sam Ikwaye, chief executive of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) Coast branch.
He said it is now time for Kenya to move forward and cover the lost time.
Veteran hotelier and managing director of the Panari Hotel, Patrick Marekia, said with the elections over, Kenyans need to go back to work and engage in nation building.
Lake Bogoria Spa & Resort General Manager Lydia Dentewo applauded Kenyans for turning out in large numbers to vote.
“It is our hope that winners will deliver their mandate to the electorate and that the economy can strive to better heights,’’ she said.
Ms Dentewo said tourism stakeholders were looking forward to a fulfilling time ahead.
“The election jitters are now behind us. We in the hospitality industry are banking on a complete recovery and hope that peace shall continue to prevail in Kenya,’’ she said.
Mr Ikwaye said domestic tourism, which carries the bulk of business during the month of August, has remained low in the Coastal tourism circuit.
“It is our hope that once full normalcy has returned, the industry will pick up and continue on a positive trajectory,’’ he said.
He added that their engagement with the county governments will continue as they seek to fast-track a number of issues such as beach management laws.
“As the incoming county chiefs constitute their county cabinets, we hope that they tourism will get more prominence and more deserving county executive committee members to serve,’’ said the CEO.
He said Kahc will reach out to all the Coast governors to structure advocacy agenda and utilise their first year in the new term to pass key legislation in beach management, entertainment and liquor management in the region.
“We hope that being the last term for most of the incoming governors, they will serve for lasting legacies. We have more poor populations despite devolution in place as well as renowned tourism investments, which requires some financial prudence on deserving areas,’’ said Mr Ikwaye.
Kenya Coast Tourist Association Chairman Victor Shitakah urged all elected leaders to help unite Kenyans.
Mr Shitakah, who is also the chief executive at Kenya Safari Lodges and Hotels, said the new Government should continue to support tourism to do even better.
“Our international arrival numbers are still low. A lot needs to be done to ensure that we have more charter flights from key source markets into our destination,” he said.
Clarion Hotel Chief Executive Robert Kinyua urged the political contestants to desist from chest-thumping and protests.
He challenged social media users to use decorum and share views without use of insults.
He said it was time that all tourism stakeholders pull in one direction to help re-position Kenya as the favourite long-haul destination.
“We are one and need to stay as one. Elections come and go but Kenya remains,” he said.
Tourist arrivals in Kenya rose 16 per cent in 2016 due to improved security and increased advertising in key source markets.
However, the numbers decreased in April to 67,084 in from 71,950 in March of 2017, according to official data.