Kenya’s tourism stakeholders on Friday expressed optimism of recording over 80 percent hotel bookings during December holidays.
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers said the fifth edition of the annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo organised by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) that kicked off in Kwale early this week has greatly boosted the sector.
Association CEO Sam Ikwaye told Xinhua that the hotels have already started receiving bookings for both domestic and foreign tourists.
“Many hotels are coming up with very attractive packages to able to tap domestic market. The expo has also played major in promoting the destination,” Ikwaye told Xinhua.
He said the expo has so far attracted more than 35 participants from different countries. At least 180 travel and tourism players from across the world, as well as local tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers and county government officials are taking part in the three-day event.
The travel advisories issued by some Western countries had seen many tourists who were scheduled to come to Kenya cancel their bookings.
Hotels at the coast and other parts of Kenya that initially teemed with tourists remained empty in 2014, with tour services operators and workers in the sector facing job losses.
Last year, the stakeholders in the tourism sector estimated that they were losing up to 1.2 million U.S. dollars daily due to evacuation of tourists.
The sector has begun to recover after the British government lifted travel warnings early this year, prompting Kenya to host an exhibition to help woo back tourists.
Tourism is a crucial foreign exchange earner to Kenya, with the sector directly contributing up to 14 percent to East African nation’s economy and about 12 percent of the workforce.
Besides terrorism and evacuation of tourists from Kenya, another challenge the sector faces is increased poaching. East African Affairs, Commerce and
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie noted that travel expo, is an indication that the region, which has suffered the brunt of insecurity that led to travel bans, was safe and open for business.
“We are urging travel agents and tour operators to assist in marketing the country. The huge turnout of participants signifies that Kenya is still a popular destination despite the many challenges it is facing,” said Kandie.
The coastal counties are known for the beautiful beach scenery, hotels and cultural tourism.