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Private beachfront ownership hurting tourism

Enterprise
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Private land ownership at the beachfront has been cited as a key challenge facing the growth of hotel businesses in the Coastal region.

While Covid-19 pandemic saw many hotel businesses close down in the region, a hospitality consultant says the sector has rebounded from the aftermath of the pandemic.

This is partly attributed to the introduction of the stimulus package in 2021.

Hospitality consultant Dr Titus Kangangi noted that “effective marketing by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has been essential to the hotel business recovery.”

“Many Hotels in Malindi and Watamu areas closed during Covid. Multi sector collaborations have however led to recovery, right now the sector has recovered about 60 per cent post Covid,” he said.

He notes that hotels in the coastal region continue to grapple with the challenge of population growth. “Over the years, the beach has been smaller because of population growth and public beaches are very few in this region,” Kangangi pointed out.

Beach traders

Kangangi noted that youths who are fresh from school in this region are grappling with the issue of unemployment, consequently, a lot of them resort to trading in the beach.

“We have a lot of beach traders making beaches congested making it unattractive to both local, regional and international tourists,” he explained how unemployment affects tourism at the coast.

Dr Kangangi noted that lack of government commitment to bring back the lost glory of the coast is remains a big challenge facing tourism sector performance.

“The Coast used to control over 65 per cent of tourism revenue in this country. Gradually, we development complacencies and due to the post-election violence we lost business to other parts of the world,” he observed.

“The government has not shown commitment in terms of infrastructure. You cannot sell a destination or country in terms of tourism, when you do not have reliable electricity, water supply and security.”

The high cost of living is another predicament that most Kenyans have been subjected to, as a result of heavy taxation.

Dr Kangangi said that the cost of living affects everyone and can be felt across the world, he notes that the resultant effect is that the tourism numbers are also shrinking.

He pointed out that tourism being devolved function, county governments have inadequate budget. Kangangi

Recent data by the Tourism Research Institute showed that the tourism sector performance rebounded strongly with earnings reaching Sh352.54 billion last year, a 31.5 per cent growth form Sh268.2 billion that the industry earned in 2022.

The performance last year also marked a major milestone, with the earnings surpassing the pre-Covid pandemic numbers of Sh296.2 billion recorded in 2019 - which has until now been the industry’s best year – by 32 per cent. 

The number of tourists coming to Kenya also increased to 1.95 million last years, a 31.5 per cent increase, compared to 1.48 million visitors the country received in 2022.

The visitor numbers are however yet to reach the pre-covid levels. The country received 2.05 million tourists in 2019.

The report projects that the sector's earnings will grow to Sh430 billion this year, and further reach Sh1.024 trillion by 2028.

It further projects that visitor numbers will increase to 2.4 million tourists in 2024, and up to 5.7 million visitors by 2028.

In the period under review, Nairobi had the highest number of hotel beds at 19.4 per cent, Nakuru 10.4 per cent, Kilifi 9.6 per cent Mombasa 8.2 per cent, Kwale 6.3 per cent and Kisumu at 4.3 per cent.

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