KTB must up its game to increase flow of tourists

Business Daily Kenya:  Foreigners are likely to relate more with Kenya’s athletics than the Big Five animals and sunny beaches these days. ...

Business Daily Kenya: 

Tourists make their way at the busy Likoni crossing channel in Mombasa. Photo/File

Foreigners are likely to relate more with Kenya’s athletics than the Big Five animals and sunny beaches these days. It is no longer a big deal that the country is a strong tourist attraction and that tourism, as a sector, should be the economy’s mainstay.

With competition growing in the region from Tanzania, South Africa and even Zimbabwe, Kenya’s tourism sector could be losing its allure, both socially and economically. You hear more of hotels retrenching staff, due to low business, than tourists thronging into these facilities. The numbers show a sorry picture, far away from the Sh100 billion industry dreamt under Vision 2030.

This is not a rosy picture for the industry. Indeed the ball is in Kenya Tourism Board (KTB)’s court now. The agency is mandated to market Kenya at local, national, regional and international levels as a premier tourist destination.

Data from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows tourism earnings declined to Sh84.6 billion in 2015, from Sh87 billion a year earlier. Earnings have dropped over the years from Sh97 billion in 2011.

In the 2015/16 financial year, the sector got Sh4.5 billion, yet the performance did not meet expectations. No wonder National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich slashed the current year’s budget to just Sh2.7 billion.

Perhaps, like many observers, he discovered that even last year’s improved performance was supported mainly by increased activity in conference tourism that comprised of visits by heads of states and high profile conferences.

The sector’s performance benefited from the reversal of travel advisories and other programmes such as charter incentive programmes and waiving of visa fees, which are not related to KTB efforts.

Kenya Tourism Board is supposed to run concerted efforts to market Kenya as a preferred tourist destination yet its officials have, ironically, become more of tourists themselves.

Of course foreign trips are necessary to put Kenya’s name out there, but when they don’t bring in the needed numbers, a change of strategy is needed. Without a marked improvement in tourism, such trips remain a burden to the taxpayer. Even on the domestic tourism front, KTB must up its game. The writer is the managing editor of Business Today (http://bit.ly/1ZsCdpA). Email: lmulunda@businesstoday.co.ke

The post KTB must up its game to increase flow of tourists appeared first on Mediamax Network Limited.

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