Kenya: Tourism stakeholders urged to focus on domestic tourism amid Covid-19
Nairobi – The Ministry of Tourism urged industry players on Monday to tap into domestic tourism to mitigate the blow from the Covid-19 pandemic that has hit the hotel sector.
Senior Secretary of Tourism (PS) Safina Kwekwe, who spoke at celebrations marking World Tourism Day 2021, said domestic tourism remains the viable option to revive tourism businesses in the wake of the pandemic that has disrupted businesses around the world.
“Two years after the disease was declared a global pandemic, the country’s tourism industry has managed to stay afloat by harnessing the power of domestic travel,” she said.
She called on tourism players to start offering innovative national tourism packages to inspire Kenyans to travel and explore their country with the aim of staying afloat during the pandemic period.
The PS said the country has huge potential for stimulus as domestic tourism and international arrivals rebound and the government is keen to develop better policies to make business easier and allow tourism to grow.
“The economic crisis caused by the pandemic has highlighted the dependence of our country on foreign travelers,” she said, adding that domestic tourism has long been neglected, “she said. added.
Kwekwe was accompanied by the general manager of the Kenyatta International Convention Center Nana Gecaga, the national coordinator Mama Ngina Waterfront Park Ali Noor and the regional director of coastal tourism John Mutua.
She said the ban on international flights had dealt a heavy blow to the tourism industry which has been the backbone of local economies in the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu.
“During the period of Covid-19, we also realized that we needed aggressive marketing in the potential markets of Eastern Europe and the Middle East, as they represent significant tourist arrivals since l ‘easing of international travel restrictions from Covid-19 last year, “she said.
Kwekwe said the tourism industry contributes significantly to the country’s economic growth and domestic tourism has saved the fragile sector from total collapse.
She said that at the height of the ban on international flights, there was a sharp drop in the number of foreign travelers, which had a negative impact on the overall economy as they spent more than domestic travelers. .
“For example, in 2020 the number of inbound tourist arrivals fell to 400,000 from 1.5 million before the pandemic in 2019,” she said.
The PS said the national government provided financial support through soft loans aimed at boosting domestic tourism.
“For example, of the 2 billion shillings set aside to support the sector, local actors in the coastal region have already spent 800,000 shillings to revive their businesses,” he said.
She also said that a continued shift towards ecotourism focused on environmental conservation could give further impetus to the tourism sector.
She urged tourism-dependent coastal counties to look to niche markets, including adventure travel, health and wellness tours, with the aim of diversifying their local economies.
“Niche marketing is important because here on the south coast we have realized that it is popular with Ugandans, Rwandans, Burundians and Tanzanians looking for wedding destinations,” she said. , adding that it was necessary to tap into national and regional tourism to support the future growth of the sector.
She said that as a result, the country will do everything possible to take advantage of the untapped regional market to boost tourist arrivals and accelerate the sector’s recovery after a crisis caused by the pandemic.