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High costs lock tourists out of Nairobi hotels

As Kenya’s tourism sector goes through its path to recovery, tourists are still shying away from some hotels because of high accommodation prices. This is in comparison to competing tourist destinations in Africa, particularly South Africa, Egypt and Morocco.

According to the STR Global report, a night at a Nairobi hotel costs Sh14,500, 48 per cent more than Egypt. Johannesburg is the second most affordable at about Sh7,000. Addis Ababa is the most expensive at Sh23,000 because of more conferences in the city by virtue of its status as the seat of the African Union.

“A great deal of the reason for the difference in rates across major African cities is simply supply and demand. Addis Ababa has a shortage of top quality hotels,” said STR Global director of business development Thomas Emanuel.

By comparison, Johannesburg is a long-established, sophisticated international city, with a large number of five-star hotels and a competitive market for accommodation.

STR Global provides clients—including hotel operators, developers, financiers, analysts and suppliers to the hotel industry—access to hotel research with regular and custom reports covering Europe, Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific and South America.

In the face of the recent terrorism incidents by the Al Shaabab militants in Kenya, Nairobi’s hoteliers have chosen to maintain rates but they have suffered with lower occupancy.

Indirect costs of terrorist attacks also affect the transportation industry because demand for air travel declines, passenger fares decline, and the inability of heightened airline security personnel to readily process travellers leads to further declines.

Tourism in Kenya has been a casualty with travel advisories discouraging foreign nationals from travelling to the country. Tourism Cabinet secretary Phylis Kandie recently said tourist arrivals dropped 15.8 per cent in 2013 to 1.49 million, primarily because of the Westgate Shopping Mall terror attack.

While the tourism sector has a diverse customer base, it saw a decrease in arrivals of 19.5 per cent from Britain, its largest market.

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