Tourism revenue drops further as numbers reduce

Tourism earnings dropped to Sh84.6 million last year as the sector recorded the lowest number of visitors in five years, the Economic Survey 2016 report shows.

International arrivals hit a low of 1.18 million from 1.35 million in 2014, a 12.6 per cent drop. In 2014, the sector’s revenue was Sh87.1 billion. The number of visitors to Kenya was 1.5 million in 2013, 1.7 million in 2012, and 1.8 million in 2011.

The Economic Survey report launched yesterday attributed the suppressed performance mainly to security concerns, particularly in the coastal region, and negative travel advisories from some European source markets, and the aftermath of Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014.

“Both visitor arrivals and tourism earnings have been on a downward trend since 2011. This was mainly attributed to security concerns associated with terrorism activities,” the report states. The number of beds occupied in hotels decreased by 6.4 per cent – from 6.2 million in 2014 to 5.9 million in 2015 – with the average bed occupancy dropping from 31.6 per cent to 29.1 per cent last year.

International conferences decreased by 9.5 per cent, despite the country hosting a number of high-profile conferences including the 10th World Trade Organisation Ministerial Conference and the Global Entrepreneurship Summit, the survey shows. The number of local conferences held, however, increased by four per cent from 3,077 in 2014 to 3,199.

The number of visitors to national parks and game reserves declined by 9.7 per cent from 2.2 million to 1.9 million. The drop has been attributed partly to competition from neighbouring countries that do not charge Value Added Tax on park entry fees. Amboseli and Lake Nakuru national parks recorded major declines of 25.7 per cent and 16.4 per cent respectively.

“In an effort to revive the sector, the government increased budgetary allocation to the State Department of Tourism from Sh5.6 billion in 2014-15 to Sh10.7 billion in 2015-16, to among others market Kenya as a preferred tourism destination,” the survey states.

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