Coast hospitality sector players' worry over Tanzania's rise as preferred destination

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast Branch Executive Officer Dr Sam Ikwaye (left). [Omondi Onyango, Standard]

Local tourism players want the government to fast-track the implementation of sound policies to bolster tourism recovery.

This, they note, will help maintain steady growth that positions Kenya as a leading tourist destination in the region.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast Branch Executive Officer Dr Sam Ikwaye said Tanzania is now the second best performer in tourist arrivals post Covid-19, behind Ethiopia according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

“It is not surprising that Tanzania is coming up. They seem to have understood their industry while getting good support from their government,” Dr Ikwaye said.

He noted that despite Kenya having a progressive tourism Act with key agencies, there is a need to relook at the operations of the many parastatals and agencies. 

Ikwaye said though the Tourism Research Institute (TRI) exists, its linkage with industry is missing, observing that devolved units (counties) have not been able to address their different niches to exploit tourism.

He said Tanzania was quick to open its sky to more international airlines and offered to support investors while Kenya has had to struggle to even do basic marketing as a country.

“There is a need for close collaboration among all stakeholders to collaborate and work together to boost tourism. Academia isn’t supported to bring research for industry consumption and the TRI isn’t financed nor facilitated adequately to do this,” he said.

He noted though Tanzania seems to be a late entrant, just like Rwanda and other emerging destinations, it seems to be a good student learning from Kenyan systems and implementing the necessary policies. “There’s also a significant brain drain from Kenya with the huge workforce, some trained using government resources but electing to export the labour in services to Tanzania,” he added.

General Manager of Plaza Beach Hotel Denis Gwaro called for increased budgetary allocation to allow for aggressive marketing of Magical Kenya destination to help up the numbers.

Following marketing efforts that led to higher number of tourists, Tanzania has been ranked second in Africa for tourism performance.

According to Tanzania’s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Dr Hassan Abbas, the tourist business was negatively impacted by Covid-19, but fresh investments and the government-produced documentary on the Royal Tour have helped to improve the performance.

The country welcomed over 400,000 visitors between January and March compared to 250,000 in the first quarter of 2022.

“This is a very good step in the tourism sector because we have come out of Covid-19. We continue to thank Tanzanians for continuing to invest in the tourism sector, many good things are coming,” said Dr Abbas.

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