Inside Politics

Tourism sector warned of tough end of year as virus bites

Thursday, November 5th, 2020 00:00 |
Tourism CS Najib Balala at hand to receive tourists disembarking a chartered plane at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa. Photo/PD/FILE

VISITORS: The number of foreign tourists visiting the Kenyan Coast declined from 50 per cent in months of October-November last year to two per cent this year, a decline occasioned by the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman Victor Shitakha said the situation has been worsened by prolonged travel restrictions issued by foreign countries to their citizens as well as tedious travel guidelines issued by various countries travelers have to endure due Coronavirus (Covid-19).

He raised fears that the number of foreign tourists may further decline if the country continues to experience a spike in Covid-19 during the second wave.

International arrivals

Shitakha said tourism destinations in Kenya should brace for slow international arrivals because despite the Covid-19 pandemic taking toll on the lucrative sector, the situation may worsen in the next two years as the country heads to the electioneering period. 

“We are in the shoulder season and at a time like this last year the sector was at 50 per cent compared to now where we are experiencing just between 2 and 3 per cent foreign tourists.

And history shows that many tourists don’t travel to Kenya when we are nearing electioneering period,” he said. 

Shitakha appealed to the government not to lockdown the country, saying should the decision be effected, it will sink the slowly growing sector deeper into trouble.

He raised fears that the second wave may affect the visitors’ turnaround if “not handled with a lot of logic.”

However, the domestic market which accounts for almost 80 per cent of tourism numbers at the Coast was significantly improving as the season headed towards end-of-the-year  festivities and after some of the restrictions were eased.

And despite the fears of sector threats by the rising numbers of the pandemic, Shitakha expressed optimism that the sector will rebound if focus on the domestic market is given the priority.

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