TRAVEL GAZETTE – Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced a raft of incentives aimed at reviving tourism which has suffered in the recent past due to increased attacks from Somalia militants.
Kenyatta said his government has set aside 12 million U.S. dollars incentives for charter planes to stimulate demand at the Coast by that category of tourists.
“We have already set aside 12 million dollars for charter incentives to stimulate demand for Kenya by new charters to the coastal region while at the same time encouraging those already flying in to increase the frequency of their flights,” he said when he opened the English Point Marina, a multi-billion shilling landmark resort in Mombasa.
The president said visa fees for children under 16 will be waived from Feb. 1.
He also said the government intends to remove VAT currently charged on park entry fees.
The president directed the National Treasury to initiate the amendment of the VAT Act and incorporate the amendments in the Finance Bill for financial year 2016/2017.
“With this measure, the Kenya Wildlife Service will cap the park entry fees at 60 dollars down from 90 dollars,” Kenyatta said.
Kenya’s tourism sector has taken a major beating in the last three years due to terror attacks perpetuated by Somalia-based Al-Shabaab.
The number of tourists visiting the country and earnings both have dropped to the lowest level.
Terrorism is not the only enemy of the East African nation’s tourism, adverse travel advisories and diseases like Ebola also affected the sector.
Kenyatta also said the waiver of the landing fees at Mombasa and Malindi airports for charter planes will be extended to June 30, 2018 to help the industry regain its full strength.
“In return, I must ask all players to respond to these initiatives, and to the ongoing consultations, with the seriousness they deserve. It is time to make the most of our heritage and our gifts,” he stressed.
Kenyatta said the government has also supported tourism in three key areas: infrastructure, security and renewal of partnerships with stakeholders in the industry.
“That investment in infrastructure and reinforcement of security is supported by closer consultation and partnership with players in the industry. As we speak, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism is currently engaged in a high-level recovery effort in consultation with stakeholders from government and the private sector,” the president added.