Tourism actors remain optimistic for 2022 despite the uncertainty caused by Covid-19 and the prevailing politically charged season.
“The gradual opening of the economies shows that we understand the virus better, and an important highlight will be to optimize tourism growth while living with the virus,” said Sam Ikwaye, executive director of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC ). Officer. He said the world had entered a new phase that would define new tourism trends.
“The past five years have been a nightmare that has impacted investment in the industry, starting with campaigns in 2016 and repeated elections in 2017,” said Dr. Ikwaye.
The Kenyan Association for Women in Tourism (KAWT), Mombasa District Association chairwoman Janet Chamia, said expectations for tourism for the new year are high.
“We have a good number of Kenyans who are vaccinated against Covid-19 and are preparing well for the booster jab, if not there. We remain confident that travel will not be restricted again, ”said Chamia, owner of the three-star Jacyjoka Holiday Apartments in Mombasa.
Chamia noted that business trends indicate a situation where international travelers will continue to visit Kenya as continents experiencing the cold winter seasons are still snowy.
Ikwaye adds that Kenya’s resilient character will be crucial in the New Year as the country has learned to survive the pandemic compared to other advanced countries with more stable health systems.
“What is worrying, however, is that we as a country have failed to adjust our democratic processes, particularly the cycle of violence and uncertainty that affects business every five years when we go to the polls,” said Ikwaye.
He said the country was already in campaign mood amid a global pandemic.
“It is a terrible sign for 2022 if not well managed. It could render small profits useless in the recovery of tourism. As an industry that directly or indirectly supports a large part of the Kenyan population, we would like to send out a clear warning that any acts of violence or ugly anti-business gimmicks will be noted and we will ensure that such leaders are not elected to office ”, warned Ikwaye.
He reiterated that as an industry, they have fully mastered the Constitution and in 2022, as it is an election year, they should consolidate their influence as a bloc and participate together and not just be passive players.
“Those standing for re-election want to see how they fared and those looking for a new mandate or newcomers, we really want to see their characters and how well they supported the sector in their nomination,” said Ikwaye.
Dennis Gwaro, general manager of the Plaza Beach Hotel on the north coast, said the outlook for the new year is promising, with the numbers likely to average between 60 and 70 percent compared to pre-Covid 2018-2019 numbers.
“We expect guests to check into hotels and stay between two weeks and months. This is because some will recover from the loss of not being able to take a vacation for the past two years due to the travel restrictions in force at the time, ”said Gwaro.
The Kenya Coast Tourist Association (KCTA) said the government has not yet taken any concrete recovery measures in the face of the pandemic in the new year.
He suggested that the government, through its Department of Tourism agencies such as the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), launch a blue line initiative that will encourage cruise ships to call at the port of Mombasa, which is now a modern Sh1 billion Cruise terminal boasts.
KCTA chairman Victor Shitakah said that as the new year is an election year, dialogue is needed between industry players and the country’s tourism marketer, KTB, on the way forward.
Shitakah, the executive director of Shitakah & Shitakah Consultancy, said he hoped the Kenyan skies would be fully opened to allow more international flights to land.
“We need to attract more charter and scheduled flights to fly to Kenya and compete effectively with neighboring destinations like Zanzibar, which are already attracting a number of international airlines from Europe and Asia and increasing their hotel occupancy,” he said.