Kenya tourism leaders to potential travellers: Elections won’t be a problem

The city skyline is seen behind a group of zebras in Nairobi National Park in Nairobi, Kenya, where lions, rhinos and other animals roam a few miles from the city center. /AP Photo
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport. (Photo: Kenya Airports Authority)

The ongoing political campaigns and upcoming elections in Kenya are not a problem for the tourism industry and tourism executives are encouraging international and domestic tourists to continue with their plans to visit and travel to the country.

Veteran hotelier, Mohamed Hersi, who is also the operations group manager of Kenya’s leading tour operator, Pollman’s Tours and Safaris, noted that facilities in Nairobi are currently busy despite the political campaign, signaling that the country is stable.

“I have to congratulate Kenyans, we are mature politically and we want to reassure the world that Kenya is peaceful. In the past, people would leave the country during elections, but we are past that. We are confident that the industry will remain stable,” Hersi said.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KCTA) Chief Executive Julius Owino said elections have always brought jitters and disruption to the business environment, however, it is important to note that with 40 days to go elections, political engagements have so far been peaceful.

He attributed this to strong institutions and respect for Kenya’s constitution.

“We have also seen the main political protagonists embark on thematic campaigns with less rhetoric than before, the battle is over economic models which is a total change of narrative. As tourism actors, we continue to call to peaceful political engagement,” he said.

He noted that the industry is stable with hotels currently averaging 50-60% cost occupancy.

The Kenya Association of Hoteliers and Caterers (KAHC) says the biggest concern regarding leisure tourism in Kenya is high inflation.

An image of Diani Beach in Kenya. /Getty Pictures

He noted that most hotels on the coast and in the parks currently have an average occupancy of 50-60%.

Meanwhile, industry players have called on the government to allow more airlines to operate directly from Mombasa, located on the Kenyan coast. The Kenyan coast is one of the world’s top beach destinations.

The KAHC and KCTA also support the policy, saying it will make Mombasa more attractive.

“Currently we face competition from Zanzibar where tourists come directly from Europe. Give landing rights to other airlines and make the destination attractive,” Okwaye said.

Original article published by The Star-Kenya

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