I was wandering around the garden at Ham House a few weeks ago and our guide described how the Lady of the house created an aviary just outside her bedroom window, so that she could be awakened every morning by the sound of birdsong. I love the sound of birdsong in the morning; it’s so sensual and full of life’s promise. I am not a birder or an ornithologist but have a close friend who is and I recall vividly spotting a leopard in the tree in the Samburu and my friend Jacques was far more interested in a rare bird. And I had wanted to say,’’look here, old chap this is a leopard with its kill in a tree in the Samburu and it’s a big deal’’
And I recalled an article in the New Yorker called ‘’Streaming Dreams-Youtube turns Pro’’ “People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches—because now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness.” And what I am talking about is in fact Tourism. “The tourism sector had a remarkable recovery as it benefited from improved security,” Zachary Mwangi of the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics said at the launch of the annual economic survey. Visitor numbers rose to 1.34 million from 1.18 million the prior year, with earnings rising 17.8 per cent, Mwangi said. 1.34 million visitors is better than the previous year but in the scheme of things, it is barely even a blip on the radar. Morocco ranks first in Africa with 10 million visitors, South Africa ranks second with nine million. Our ‘’beach product’’ is not cheap and has not moved since the days it was optimised for vacationing Volkswagen workers in the 1980s and 1990s. The sad reality is our beach product has been ‘’uber’’ed. Today it relies not on the kindness of strangers but the kindness of loyalists like Nairobi folks. I was in Ras-Al-Khamah and it was in fact cheaper for me to fly to Dubai and spend a week there than in Mombasa over Christmas. The place was full and they told me occupancy was never less than 80 per cent. Just ask your kids where they would want to be. The answer is right there. And there you have it, one can afford to make the constant investment and the other cannot and over a five year cycle its game over. TPS Serena hotels reported full year 2016 earnings last week at the Securities Exchange. They reported a +4.514 per cent increase in FY revenues and a +254.2 per cent turnaround in FY profit before tax which clocked 325.301 million. TPS Serena hotels spoke to the ‘’tourism sector in East Africa witnessed a slow but positive turnaround during the second half of 2016’’ and that ‘’traditional and new international source markets performed slightly better than year 2015.’’ They cited ‘’increased activity within the EA corporate sector and domestic leisure market segment’’ and spoke of ‘’experiencing a’margin squeeze’’ resulting from overdevelopment around TPS’s units.’’ Serena hotels is the only listed tourism asset at the securities exchange.
Aly-Khan is a financial analyst