Thursday, 10 August 2017

KENYA: Tourism Grew 10.7% In The First 5 Months Of The Year 2017

Tourist arrivals grew 10.7 per cent in the first five months of the year, cementing a rebound the State says has continued into the electioneering period.

The number of international visitors rose to 358,985 in the year to May up from 324,276 in a similar period last year, according to data from Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).

The growth is welcome news to hoteliers who had been forced to cut jobs, slash pay and close shop following the crippling effects of several travel alerts issued in 2014 after a spate of terrorist attacks on holiday getaway towns.

Given the feedback we have received from numerous stakeholders, including hoteliers at the Coast as well as the Maasai Mara, most hotels and resorts are currently experiencing full booking, said Betty Radier, the KTB chief executive officer.

The wildebeest migration, also known as the 8th wonder of the world, started in June and is expected to continue until October. This attraction continues to bring many tourists globally to the Maasai Mara.

Kenya in 2013 witnessed dips in tourist arrivals ahead of the elections on fears that the violence that ripped through the country after its 2007 polls would erupt again.

Ms Radier said the arrival of global personalities Chinese business Mogul Jack Ma, and Veronica Ferraro, Italian fashion blogger close to the election has helped calm visitor nerves.

Tourism was once the highest foreign exchange earner, before a decline that started in 2011 before last year’s rebound.

Official data shows that tourism earned the country Sh84.6 billion in 2015, down from Sh87.1 billion in 2014 and Sh97.9 billion in 2011.

Earnings increased to Sh99.7 billion last year on arrivals of 1.39 million tourists, down from 1.71 million in 2011.

Past terrorism attacks had caused a big drop in foreign visitor arrivals after Western nations issued travel advisories.

This partly saw the weakening of the shilling to the US dollar last year as the drop in arrivals threatened to cut the inflows of hard currency.
The US and Britain have since lifted their travel advisories on coastal holiday-making towns of Mombasa and Malindi, raising hopes of a faster sector revival.

Kenya’s tourism industry is expected to grow at an annual average of six per cent over the next decade.

The country's travel and tourism's GDP is projected to grow at six per cent annually over the next 10 years, as the total economy grows at 5.9 per cent, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WITC) Benchmarking Report 2017.

The projected growth is quicker than automotive manufacturing at 4.3 per cent and agriculture sector at 5.1 per cent.

The WTTC report shows that travel and tourism industry is larger than mining, chemicals manufacturing and automotive manufacturing combined.

The economic value of the business and leisure travel sector, which is 10 per cent of Kenya's GDP, is almost the same size as Kenya’s banking sector, the report shows.

On employment, travel and tourism directly supports nearly three times as many jobs as the banking sector and more than twice as many jobs as the financial services sector in the country.

The report shows that 1.1 million direct, indirect and induced jobs were supported by the industry in 2016, or 9.2 per cent of the country’s total employment.

These figures show that the tourism sector is not only a major engine to economic growth in Kenya, but it is also a creator of jobs, said David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer of WTTC.

In Kenya, as in other countries, travel and tourism provides jobs across all levels of society and from the most remote rural areas to the busiest city centre.

The report by WTTC indicates that Kenya will need another 500,000 people to serve the travel and tourism industry over the next 10 years.

Scowsill says in order for our sector to continue to boost the economy and livelihoods in Kenya, it is important to address the anticipated talent shortage.

We depend on quality people to deliver a quality product to our customers, the WTTC boss said.

He said right policies, programmes and partnerships need to be put into place to ensure that Kenya’s workforce of the future know about the opportunities in the industry.

Scowsill added that appropriate skills and knowledge in the workforce would support future growth of the sector.

Kenya is a beautiful country with a great tourism product and I call on the Kenyan government to continue to invest in the travel and tourism sector to foster the growth and further explore the great socio-economic benefits our sector has to offer, he said.

Countries researched in the study by WTTC included the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Argentina and Canada.

Others were Turkey, Jamaica, Thailand, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Japan and Mexico.

The WTTC benchmarking report is published every two years and is sponsored by American Express.

Travel and tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally.

The sector contributes $7.6 trillion or 10.2 per cent of global GDP, once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account, according to WTTC’s annual produced economic impact report.

The industry also accounts for 292 million jobs or one in 10 of all jobs on the planet.

Kenya is banking on marketing campaigns in leading global cruise conventions and enhanced security to increase the number of international tourists arriving by sea.

Last year, the Port of Mombasa was voted Africa’s leading cruise facility for the second-year running by the World Travel Awards.

Mombasa is a preferred destination for cruise holidaymakers since after they arrive at the port, it takes them a short time to head to national parks for game drives,said Tourism Cabinet secretary Najib Balala.

Cruise tourism, he said, is a lucrative market for Kenya, adding that visitors arriving by sea are high-end holidaymakers.
To tap the potential of this segment, Kenya is building a Sh350 million cruise ship terminal at the port.

The project, which is expected to be completed before the forthcoming cruise tourism season in November this year, would significantly boost the industry as the port currently lacks a facility for catering to global international holidaymakers.

Mr Balala, Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer Betty Radier and officials from the Kenya Ports Authority were in Miami, US, on Monday, where they participated in the Seatrade Cruise Global convention which closed its doors on Thursday.

The forum is the cruise industry’s premier global event and brings together business, industry cruise lines, suppliers, travel agents and partners in the sector.

As the epicentre of the cruise industry, Seatrade features exhibitors and attendees from around the world including key industry players.
Mr Balala said Kenya’s participation in the Miami convention would boost the country’s growing cruise industry.

He attributed the improvement to the decline in pirate attacks off Somalia coast and enhanced security in Mombasa.

Recently, Mr Balala said Kenya would participate in the Miami convention to market the Port of Mombasa in order to attract more cruise ships and increase tourist arrivals by sea.

Cruise tourists, he said, had boosted the industry and the economy, because they later make repeat visits and go to national parks such as the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Tsavo East and West National Parks, Amboseli National Park and Shimba Hills Game Reserve and excursions in Mombasa Town.

Although the tourists who arrive by sea spend a short time in the country, majority of them later come for longer holidays thereby boosting the economy, he said.

The availability of a cruise terminal at the Port of Mombasa will be a game changer to tourism industry as it will help attract more international tourists to the country.

Mr Balala said the facility would offer services to tourists when they arrive at the port or when departing for other destinations.

Over the years, there has been no terminal at the port to cater for tourists who arrive by sea. But I am glad that by the next season we shall have a modern cruise ship facility, he added.

According to figures by the Kenya Tourism Board, arrivals by cruise ships at the Port of Mombasa declined by 17.7 per cent to 2,717 last year compared with 3,302 visitors in 2015.

During this cruise tourism season which began in November last year and ends this month, at least 2,958 tourists arrived in the country by sea.

Only two cruise ships MS Nautica and MS Silver Cloud made two trips to Mombasa this season.
The arrival of luxury cruise ship MS Silver Cloud at the Port of Mombasa on Monday a week ago marked the end of the cruise tourism season.
The ship, operated by Silversea Cruises brought 255 passengers and 224 crew from Zanzibar and departed for Seychelles the following day on Tuesday.

Majority of the tourists who arrived aboard MS Silver Cloud were from the United States while others were from Germany, Canada and England.
Some of the visitors flew over to Maasai Mara National Reserve for game drives, others travelled to Shimba Hills Game Reserve in Kwale for safari while the rest remained in Mombasa for excursions.

KPA managing director Catherine Mturi-Wairi recently said the launch of the construction of the cruise terminal comes at a time when the port is experiencing a rise in ship arrivals compared to a few years ago.

The KPA boss said a survey which was carried out in 2015 by Tourism and Transport Consult International on cruise tourist potential for Kenya showed that Mombasa could easily attract 140,000 passengers yearly.

She said the cruise terminal would offer a range of facilities including a lounge area for passengers, reception counters for cruise operators, restaurants and souvenir shops.

The ultra-modern facility will give our visitors the opportunity to relax upon arrival and before departure, she said.

Kenya remains a favourite tourist destination, loved globally for its sandy beaches, wildlife, rich culture and favourable weather conditions.
Foreigners who have not traditionally visited Kenya in large numbers are now doing so, especially in the past one year.

Even domestic tourist numbers are rising as the expansion of the middle-class continues even though the economic and financial conditions of the poorer sections of the society may have deteriorated with inflation.

Last year, the country saw international arrivals at 877,602, a 16.7 per cent increase from the 752,073 recorded in 2015.

The country also recorded 429,749 cross border entrances putting the total combined arrivals in 2016 at 1.3 million, a 10 per cent growth from the previous year.

The 2016 statistics released by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) indicate a shift in the performance from key source markets with some countries doubling the number of tourists coming into the country while others, for instance, United Arab Emirates (UAE) declining sharply from 40,875 accounting — or 5.4 per cent of tourists who came into the country — to 18,428 (2.1 per cent) last year.

The US topped the list of countries that had the most tourists coming into the country, ousting the UK, which had been the number one source market for Kenya for the longest time.

“The UK has shown slight decline, while all the other markets have shown positive growth. This may be attributed to the Brexit that has led to a weaker pound, making other destinations more expensive hence reducing the number of tourists from the United Kingdom,” says the KTB report on Tourism.

The US accounted to 11.2 per cent (97,883) while the UK accounted for 11 per cent (96,404) of tourist arrivals last year.
In 2015, the UK was top at 98,523 (13.1 per cent) while the US was at 84,759 (11.3 per cent). In 2011, 203,290 tourists from the US paid Kenya a visit compared to 119,615.

India took third position accounting for 7.3 per cent (64,116) of the tourists, a sharp rise from 49,756 (5.4 per cent) visitors recorded in 2015.

Uganda took the fourth position accounting for 5.8 per cent (51,023) of tourists up from 3.9 per cent (29,038) who visited Kenya in 2015.
China followed closely with 47,860 (5.5 per cent) up from 29,790 (4 per cent) in 2015.

“The growing positive relations between Kenya and China and India may be contributing to the growth of tourists from this region. India and China have fully recovered and surpassed the 2011 performance,” said the report.

Germany, Italy and South Africa accounted to five per cent (43,502), 35,953 (4.1 per cent) and 35,926 (4.1 per cent) of tourists who visited country last year, respectively. France recorded 20,435 while Canada emerged the 10th market source at 19,700 (2.3 per cent).

A total of 782,013 international arrivals were recorded at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi while 92,872 came via the Moi International Airport, Mombasa. Tourist arrivals by cruise ship were 2,717 down from 3,302 recorded in 2015.

August and July, December and January remained the best periods for the tourism sector in Kenya, recording the highest number of visitors.

The main purpose of travel to Kenya remained holiday accounting to 75 per cent of the arrivals with business and conferences contributing to 13 per cent and the rest (study, on transit) of the reasons taking up 12 per cent.

“Holiday is the major reason of travel into Kenya, taking a share of 73 per cent of the total arrivals compared to 70 per cent in 2015. Both business and conference contributed 14 per cent per cent of the arrivals compared to 16 per cent in 2015, with VFR, transit and study with eight per cent, three per cent and one per cent in 2016 as was the case in 2015,” said the KTB in a statement.

KTB chief executive Betty Raddier expressed optimism the sector’s performance would boost earnings.
“We project that tourism sector will make Sh94 billion for the Kenyan economy as we expect it to stay resilient despite the looming general elections,” she said.

We have hired a global exhibitor On Show Solutions for the October fair to take marketing efforts of Kenya as a destination to the next level.
We are banking on the firm’s global experience and expertise to take Kenya to where it used to be. It is in our plan to learn about changing consumer demands and diversify to suit the market demands.

Africa contributed to 29 per cent of total tourism arrivals with Uganda topping the list, followed by South Africa, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Uganda recorded the highest growth in the number of tourists at 75 per cent with Ethiopia experiencing a 39.8 per cent (15,328) increase followed by Nigeria at 27.7 per cent. South Africa, Rwanda and Tanzania recorded a 17.8 per cent, 3.7 per cent and 2.3 per cent growth respectively.

Uganda has shown the highest growth in arrivals into Kenya from the region. Easier facilitation and the joint marketing initiatives may have led to this growth. Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia have fully recovered and surpassed the 2011 tourism performance,read the report.

Africa’s growth may be attributed to increased arrivals from most of our markets of focus, especially South Africa, Uganda and Nigeria.
Europe has always remained the top source market for Kenya but has been declining as it is the case with The Middle East over the recent years while Asia has seen a positive growth attributable to arrivals from China and India.

The Middle East has seen decline due to the instability in the region in general and the recession in the UAE in particular, due to the depressed oil prices, added the report.

The tourism sector is still on a recovery journey and the KTB says since the post-election crisis India, China, Uganda, Nigeria and Ethiopia markets have fully recovered.

The tourism agency expressed confidence that the numbers would remain on an upward trajectory. The agency grew domestic travel by 14.6 per cent in 2016 beating the target set the previous year.

The State agency had projected that sector would grow by three per cent after it embarked on aggressive marketing campaigns to woo local tourists.

Data from Kenya National Bureau of statistics indicate that Kenyans took up 3.6 million bed nights in 2016 compared to 3.1 million in 2015.
Domestic tourism is as important as international tourism and we want Kenyans to embrace and promote it.

We have products that are tailored to the local tourists and KTB is constantly working with the players in the market to ensure that the local needs are met. We are looking forward to a better performance this year, said Ms Raddier.

According to the agency, domestic tourism has potential that needs to be harnessed and there is a need to push for local tourism to sustain the operations of the hospitality industry — should international arrivals dwindle as elections approach.

Despite efforts made by the State agency, domestic tourists cite the high rates charged by hotels as the greatest impediment when planning for local travel.

A report Cytonn Investments released in October called on local hotel operators to come up with attractive incentives that compel locals to patronise their facilities.

An outlook report by the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) shows that forward bookings in major tourist hotels are in line with seasonal trends and prospects for the sector remain high in 2017.

According to the CBK study, the economy is expected to remain resilient this year supported by macroeconomic stability, public investment in infrastructure, lower energy prices and the recovery of tourism sector.

The hospitality players expect the sector’s performance to remain on an upward trajectory.
We have not seen any cancellation so far, in fact, some of our members are almost fully booked for the July and August one of the busiest seasons.

We are confident that everything will be fine and hopeful that Kenyans will take elections as a one day event after which life continues, said Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers chairman Mike Macharia.

Kenya's tourism sector will take another two years to recover after the government beefed up security and boosted funding for the sector, a key source of hard currency revenues, new tourism minister Najib Balala said.

Visitor numbers and earnings have plunged in the last four years as al Shabaab militants from neighbouring Somalia launched a series of attacks on Kenyan soil in retaliation for Kenya's military intervention in Somalia.

That has hit the shilling currency, which fell 11 percent against the dollar last year after a 4.5 percent decline in 2014, and dragged on growth in the Kenyan economy, East Africa's largest.

Balala, who took over the tourism ministry last month, said the fact there had been no serious attack in the last eight months showed security had improved as a result of investments in equipment, vehicles and security personnel.

Smaller attacks have continued, mainly near the border with Somalia.

We are going to work hard to not only create jobs and improve our GDP, but also to stabilise our currency by getting the numbers in, by getting the foreign currency in, he said.

During campaigning for the 2013 elections, President Uhuru Kenyatta's Jubilee coalition set a target of 3 million visitors a year by 2017.

Balala said the tourism ministry planned to spend 5.2 billion shillings $50.83 million) this fiscal year, which began in July, on measures to foster growth in tourism.

From December this year we are going to see a lot of visitors come in, to fully recover, I think it will be winter 2018, he said after skydiving onto a white sandy beach to promote Kenyan resorts.

Visitor numbers dropped 12 percent in the first 11 months of 2015 to 690,893, reflecting the impact of travel warnings issued by western governments after a spate of Islamist attacks that killed more than 400 people, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said.

These included raids by gunmen on Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall in 2013, coastal towns in 2014 and a university in April last year.
Balala said earnings had fallen to $870 million in 2014, from a peak of $1.2 billion in 2011.

Travel warnings -- including from Britain, the source of more than half the nation's tourists -- have since been lifted, spurring an increase in the number of visitors to Kenya's game parks and beaches. November arrivals of 62,548 marked a jump of 6.7 percent compared with the same month in 2014, KTB said.

Official figures for the peak month of December are still being compiled but individual hoteliers and safari operators have reported improved business.

Balala said the government is using Sh1.2 billion this fiscal year to offer rebates to charter operators who take their clients to the Kenyan coast, an area that was hit hard by the decline.

It is also targeting visitors from new markets like Russia, Hungary and Nigeria as well as the European nations on which Kenya has traditionally relied.

Officials have also waived landing fees for charter flights to the coast, reduced park entry fees for tourists and urged operators to modernise their facilities.

Most of these hotels are of the 1980s. We want to move them to 2030 fresh, modern, with a touch of culture and African heritage, Balala said.

Tourism Observer
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