Pre-ITB visits to key partners in Italy and day 1 of this year’s 50th International Tourism Bourse in Berlin clearly gave Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala the confidence that the tide for the country’s tourism sector has turned.
Comments attributed to Mr. Balala suggest that he expects a 20 percent rise in visitor numbers come the July high season and credited a range of support measures introduced in recent months.
As of November last year, the downward trend reversed, and more visitors came to Kenya compared to the years 2014 and 2013, during which sharp reductions in arrivals wreaked havoc on the country’s tourism sector.
A reduction in park entrance fees, however, combined with incentives for charter operators including the waiver of landing fees in Mombasa, have kindled renewed interest in key overseas core markets like Italy, Germany, France, and the UK. A waiver of visa fees for children under 16 has also been cited as an important factor to bring families back to the Kenya coast by making the cost of holidays once again more affordable.
Toned down anti-travel advisories also helped to turn the tide as visitors can now once again get travel insurance with their holiday packages, something almost impossible due to the excessively harsh language used by the UK and other western powers when advising against travel to Kenya.
The upcoming Easter season is reportedly being booked very well in Kenya, not just by domestic visitors but also visitors from across the region, and the just concluded Sarit Centre Holiday Fair was crammed with bargain hunters ready to spend the Easter week either at one of the many coast resorts or else in one or two of Kenya’s safari lodges.
Visitor numbers from overseas are expected to continuously rise from now on, following a strong revival of interest in holidays in Kenya and the wider Eastern African region, where Nairobi is often the arrival airport of choice.
The Kenyan delegation to ITB, led by Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and Kenya Tourism Board’s (KTB’s) AG. Chief Executive Jacinta Nzioka, comprises a very large number of private sector participants aiming to sell beach resorts, safaris, sports, and adventure holidays and also promote MICE business in pre- and post-ITB sales missions across Europe.