STRATEGY

Government embraces agro-tourism to grow economy

Domestic tourists targeted in sector revival

In Summary

•The government intends to make use of cultural heritage, sports, agriculture and the blue economy to keep the tourism sector vibrant.

•The industry has started to re-open after the resumption of domestic flights on July 15, and international flights which commenced on August 1.

The government is keen to tap into agro-tourism to expedite the growth of the tourism sector and the country's economy, Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe has said.

The new development is part of ministry strategies to revive the travel and tourism industry which is the most hit by the Covid-19 pandemic so far, where the sector has lost more than Sh81 billion so far.

The industry has started to re-open after the resumption of domestic flights on July 15, and international flights which commenced on August 1.

PS Kwekwe has said the government intends to make use of cultural heritage, sports, agriculture, and the blue economy to keep the tourism sector vibrant.

“You will realize that even though we have opened our skies, the number of tourists coming to Kenya is very low, so we are looking for more ways to attract them not just depending on wildlife alone,” she said.

She spoke on Monday when she accompanied Agriculture PS Hamadi Boga in inspecting agricultural projects at Nyalani in Kinango constituency.

Kenya largely depends on tourists from the US, Europe, the East Africa region and Asia.

Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala has projected international arrivals will fall by 90 per cent.

Based on last year's 2, 048,833 total arrivals, the country is likely to miss out on about 1.8 million (1,843,949) international arrivals this year as a result of Covid-19, which has dampened the global travel and hospitality industry.

PS Kwekwe has noted that age is limiting a huge number of tourists.

 

Most who traverse the world are either pensioners or older individuals who have saved for own and family trips, and with the aged being vulnerable to Coronavirus infection, they have been forced to cut on travel.

“The western countries were the first to be hit and the aged were reported to be susceptible to the virus, it is obvious they now fear contracting the disease,” she said.

The EU has also asked its member countries not to travel outside the continent for the next year and instead spend their monies within the continent to help revive their economies. 

The government is counting on domestic tourists to help revive the sector, which is projected to lose up to 80 per cent of revenues this year.

This is about Sh130.9 billion based on 2019 total industry revenues where the sector generated a total of Sh163.6 billion.

The ministry is further investing in sports tourism to sell destination Kenya. 

To promote safari's at the country's parks and reserves, the government has cut entry fees by 50, a measure that remains in place until June 30, 2020.

It has been calling on Kenyans to take advantage of the waiver and budget-friendly hotel packages, to sample tourist facilities and sites across the country.