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January 21, 2019

Tourism budget way below 2018 earnings

Traditional dancers welcome tourists at Moi Airport, Mombasa, when they arrived on board the inaugural Qatar Airways flight on December 9
Traditional dancers welcome tourists at Moi Airport, Mombasa, when they arrived on board the inaugural Qatar Airways flight on December 9

The tourism sector 2018 revenues were 151 times more than the Sh1 billion budgetary allocation for stimulating tourism innovations in the 2018/19 financial year.

The tourism ministry reported a Sh157.38 in receipts in 2018, a 32.2 per cent increase from Sh119.0 billion the year before, with the industry posting 68 per cent rise in guest arrivals.

Out of the Sh1.045 billion, Sh340 million was directed to new markets, Sh380 million to capital lending for hoteliers and Sh325 million for restoration of Fort Jesus.

The sector however remained robust even before the fund to promote its development is fully implemented.

In April 2018, the parliamentary tourism committee noted that the ministry was under-funded and Sh4.5 billion received in 2017/18 year was very low despite a revenue contribution of more than Sh119 billion. 

It asked government to give more money for promotion that would translate to more revenue.

The committee also sought an increase in more than Sh6 billion deducted from domestic and international tourists through the Kenya Airports Authority.

Local tourists pay Sh100 for each ticket while international tourists pay close to Sh1000 ($10) which is to be handed to the ministry for promotional activities.

On December 19, National Treasury published regulations for Tourism Promotion Fund that will provide resources to support the development, marketing and branding of the tourism sector.

Treasury is expected to disburse Sh200 million in the current year that is ending in June 2019 to initiate the fund.

The fund would include proceeds from Air Passengers Service Charge, money appropriated by the National Assembly and interests, investments income and grants made from the fund.

“The officer administering the fund shall by the August 30 of each year issue a budget circular to the eligible persons funding, indicating the ceilings for funding each object of the Fund; and priority programmes, projects and activities to be funded in that financial year,” the draft on national treasury website stated.

This year’s tourism growth was supported by majorly by the aviation industry with Jomo Kenyatta International Airport spearheading to record 1.34 million passengers in 2018.

This included French national airline, Air France increasing flights from Paris to Nairobi to five times a week.

Netherlands Tui Fly charter airline also made its debut in November to the coastal airport, after Belgium's Tui and Poland's LOT landed in the coastal airport bringing total tourists arrivals to 685 in a month.

Qatar Airways early in December launched direct flights from Doha in Qatar to Mombasa, making four scheduled weekly flights and bringing about 600 visitors to the region.

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