Kenyan hotel owners blame polls for low bookings
Posted Tuesday, May 15 2012 at 22:30
- Operators forecast low bookings due to high holiday charges and fear of violence ahead of the General Election
Hotel owners have warned of job losses and low bookings due to the rising cost of fuel and uncertainty over the next elections.
The sector may be unable to reach the Sh98 billion mark recorded last year as tourists might keep away for fear of political violence, hotel proprietors said.
“As hoteliers, we have invested a lot in promoting the industry in new markets.
“All our efforts may go to waste if tourists fail to show up due to travel bans, political tensions or high insurance premiums,” said Mr Korla, vice chair of the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers.
He spoke as tour operators cited frequent fuel price increments as one of the reasons that is making Kenya an expensive destination.
Coast branch chairperson Monika Solanki said major travel firms and tour operators in the West have classified Kenya as “too expensive for wild safaris” compared to competitors such as South Africa and Botswana.
“Many of our clients are complaining about the ever rising costs of wild safaris in the wake of sky high fuel prices.
“When the prices of fuel go up it means tour firms must also review their charges to keep afloat. This means many tourists will not be able to visit the parks,” she said.
Ms Solanki has warned this may push many small operators out of business resulting in job losses.
“Many tour firms will be forced to close down as it will be difficult for them to manage tours to popular wildlife spots such as the Maasai Mara.
“Tourists who come to the Coast will forego going on safaris and instead relax on the beaches as they will not be able to afford wild safari costs.”
Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohammed Hersi said while it is too early to forecast December bookings, holding elections will deal operators a revenue blow.
“As much as tourism is Kenya’s second biggest foreign exchange earner, the government should know that beach holidays are not our preserve and tourists can always go elsewhere,” said Mr Hersi.
At the same time, Matatu Owners Association national vice-chairman Ali Bates has welcomed the reduction of diesel prices by 36 cents.
“We are glad that the Energy Regulatory Commission has reduced the diesel prices by 36 cents as it will help bring down our operation costs.
“Most matatus use diesel and therefore the current prices are a relief to players in the industry,” he said.