Nairobi – Kenya’s biggest tourism competitors in Africa are reaping big from the political unrest that has hit the country.
The competitors include Tanzania, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa. Most of the tourists who have cancelled their visits to Kenya have booked into these countries that offer similar products.
Concerns are now rife in the industry that it may be very hard to reverse the gains which the competitors are making if the situation in the country is not resolved soon.
“Our tourism products are not unique to Kenya and we have competitors who have similar products,” said Mr Fred Kaigwa, the Kenya Tour Operators Association (KATO) chief executive.
According to Mr Kaigwa, charter group companies that have been accounting for many arrivals to the country are diverting to these places which have similar products to those in Kenya.
“The Charter Group companies are the ones who decide which destinations to sell to clients,” said Mr Kaigwa.
The charter companies have decided not to take the risk of bringing visitors to Kenya and have diverted them to other destinations, he said.
Overseas Tour Operators who also sell tourism products from various African countries have also been diverting visitors to countries with similar products to Kenya, said Mr Kaigwa.
OTO’s members such as Kuoni Travel Holding Ltd receive products from different countries and then sell them abroad.
Tanzania, Zimbabwe and South Africa have for long offered stiff competition to Kenya’s wildlife tourism and are now gaining an upper hand due to the instability in the country.
Neighbouring Tanzania has a well developed wildlife product with the Serengeti National Park offering a viable alternative to the Masai Mara.
Both parks share an ecosystem and wildlife move between them such as the great wildebeest migration.
The migration can be viewed from both the Mara and Serengeti.
According to Mike Macharia, the chief executive of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, most visitors coming to the Mara usually cross over to the Serengeti.
The Rift Valley, which crosses over into Tanzania, also has several lakes that provide popular tourist attractions.