Tourism

NEWS

Relief for tourism in Kenya recovering

Visitors are incrising: optimism for the season

09-05-2022 by Freddie del Curatolo

Tourism in Kenya is on the upswing and sending signs of optimism for the continuation of the season. This is what official data from the first Economic Survey 2022 published by the Government says. Compared to the previous year, in the first months of the year international visitors increased by about 50%, which follows the similar increase between 2020 (579 thousand travelers entered the country) and 2021 (871 thousand). Of course, we are still far from the figures of the pre-pandemic years, especially from the peak recorded in 2019 with the passing of 2 million certified online visas.
Comparisons, at the end of the 2022 season, will have to be made against that number, but it is a given that we can safely return above one million visitors, leaving behind the two worst seasons of the millennium. According to Treasury projections, the number of admissions to Kenya by the end of the 2022/2023 financial season could be 1.03 million.

Although the government has sponsored the good work done to boost the tourism sector (the allocation of 15.8 billion shillings could also be read positively, if it did not prelude the usual dispersion of funds for initiatives that are often questionable and an end in themselves), entrepreneurs have had to go it alone to protect their workers and recovery after the restrictions. There were no social shock absorbers and even the proposal of subsidized loans to hotels through the Tourism Finance Corporation contained so many constraints and "stakes" that very few were able to take advantage of them to renovate their facilities.
As is well known, in the last two years it has been local tourism that has saved the hospitality industry in Kenya. Affluent Kenyans, probably also blocked by not being able to travel freely abroad and by delays in the vaccination process and in the equalization of green passes, have moved within their country and the earnings generated by "domestic tourism" have increased by 65% in one year, from 88 to 146 billion Kenyan shillings in 2021.

Overall, overnight occupancy increased by 45.1 percent to 5.5 million in 2021. The number of visitors to national parks and game reserves also increased from 1.0 million in 2020 to 1.5 million in 2021.

From safaris in the Maasai Mara and other wildlife reserves to vacations on Indian Ocean beaches, Kenya's tourism industry contributes about 10 percent of economic output and employs more than two million people. Over the past two years, the industry has lost nearly 1.2 million jobs. They are looking to recovery not only to lift businesses, global market attractiveness and Kenya's GDP, but for employment and to be able to feed these people and their families.

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