Kenya loses Sh80bn tourism revenue to Covid in six months


Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The tourism industry has lost Sh80 billion in the first six months of the year, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said Monday, highlighting the adverse effects of Covid-19.

Mr Balala said the sector that contributed about 10 percent of the gross domestic product was on its knees mainly due to ban on international flights and movement restrictions that have affected domestic tourism.

“Coronavirus started in December 2019, and we have lost almost Sh80 billion in revenue. This is equivalent to almost half of the revenues we had in the last financial year,” said Mr Balala.

Kenya’s tourism earnings grew by 3.9 percent to Sh163.6 billion last year as arrivals defied terror threats and global geopolitics to remain above the two-million mark last year.

The earnings improved from the Sh157.4 billion in 2018, but was slower than the previous year.

Mr Balala projected that the earning from the sector would even drop sharply in the next six months, “because the aviation sector that supports tourism is yet to come back to life.”

To bring back the sector, Mr Balala called upon investors to embrace the domestic market, adding that the international tourism would only bounce back towards the end of 2021.

He challenged players in the domestic market to set up the right prices for their products, noting that poor pricing was discouraging Kenyans from taking up the products in the sector.

“Domestic tourism is sensitive to pricing. Why charge a local tourist $30 (Sh30,000) to visit Maasai Mara yet he can use the same amount to go to Dubai?” he posed.