Tourism sector stakeholder complain ‘they were left in the cold’

Tourism players have expressed their disappointment over failure by Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich to allocate “adequate” funds to market the sector.

They claimed the CS was “mean”, raising jitters amongst sector players.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi said the multi-million shilling sector is still struggling and needed sustainable support from the government to reclaim its lost glory. Despite the sector having done well last year, Hersi said, it still needs constant marketing through the government.

“It is regrettable that a sector that constantly requires proper global marketing has not received any allocation this year. The fact that we are improving does not mean that we don’t require support,” he said.

Marketing of tourist destination, Hersi added, is the work of the government.

“Remember that out of sight out of mind. This is a sector that solemnly relies on marketing, without which we are no more,” he lamented.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said the sector is still recovering from the 2017 political shock and government should have increased the previous allocation by 10 per cent. “Right now most of hotels in Watamu and Malindi have shut because of the low season. This is the right time to market our destinations and if we go without any government allocation then we should not expect good results,” said Ikwaye.

During his Budget speech yesterday, Rotich said delays in long rains had negatively affected the agricultural sector but expressed optimism with sectors such as tourism which have performed significantly well in the recent past.

Strong perfomance

“While there are risks related to delayed long rains which may impact negatively on agriculture, we expect such risks to be offset by continued strong performance in non-agricultural activities such as tourism and construction,” said Rotich.

Most of the hotels now depend on the 40 per cent tourism arrival rate as a result of the low season.

In the 2018 budget, Rotich announced Sh1 billion allocations for marketing activities to build a strong revenue generation from the sector part of which Sh340 million was set aside to sustain new markets.

The tourism sector earns Kenya an average of Sh100 billion every year and contributes more than 13.5 percent to the gross domestic producted and directly supported an estimated 250,000 jobs and an additional 350,000 indirectly.

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