The Kenyan government is allocating 7.1 billion Kenyan shillings to revive the country’s battered tourism sector.
According to a local daily, the government intends to increase its marketing budget from the current 1.1 billion Kenyan shilling it allocated for the current financial year.
This money will go towards marketing the country to not only its traditional tourist sources in the West but also the East. Tourism, which has for many years remained the jewel in the crown of Kenya’s economy, has recorded a poor run over the past three years.
This move is meant to lift the sector whose earnings for 2014 decreased by 7.3 per cent to 87.1 billion Kenya shillings. Nonetheless, the sector continues to be a vital source of foreign exchange earnings. The country saw a decline of international arrivals drop by 11.1 per cent. As it is, Kenya’s tourism sector has been perturbed by travel advisories as a result of terror threats.
Despite, the intervention by the government, Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) CEO Agatha Juma believes the sector will take at least two years before Kenya’s backbone industry recovers.
“It [the money the government plans to allocate for the sector] will help but it also depends on what that money will be used for,” Juma told CNBCafrica.com.
“Security has been a big problem for Kenya and this has led to a decline of about 43 per cent in the sector [Tourism], if security remains as it is with no threats then the industry will recover but it will take at least two years,” Juma said.
It is estimated that at least 15,000 people have lost their jobs within the sector directly and the occupancy levels in hotels are about 25 and 30 per cent.
“Thing have been really tough and they continue to be tough. Unfortunately livelihoods are at stake, there are jobs that have been lost, supporting businesses are already beginning to feel the pinch.”
Nevertheless, the government remains optimistic that the sector will improve soon as a Task Force with a decree of developing a strategy to address underlying challenges so as to position the country as the preferred destination works on how to address the challenges.
In April, the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) pledged to support the country’s dwindling sector and further endorsed Kenya as a safe tourism destination weeks after an attack at a University in the North Eastern part of the country that left at least 147 dead.
“It has been a bad season and the season has been long. It started in 2013, 2014, and 2015 does not seem to be getting any better and when we thought it could not get worse it did. However, when you hit rock bottom, the only way you go is up,” Juma said during a previous interview with CNBC Africa.