Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala anticipates the Kenyan tourism sector to recuperate in 2024 from the effects of Covid-19.
The government until then, expects to largely rely on domestic tourism to reimburse losses close to $1 billion in revenue between January and October when numbers of foreign visitors fell by two-thirds due to Covid-19.
Speaking to journalists after making an impromptu visit at the Mida Creek magical circuit in Kilifi County, Balala said, currently the country is recording few international guests but relies heavily on the local market.
The Sh163.5 billion 2020 outcome did not meet the government’s set expectations to gain a one per cent growth in the tourism sector.
”Tourism has greatly been affected. There are no positive changes in the sector because all flights were suspended after the outbreak of the global pandemic,” he said.
Balala further disclosed a strategy to reel in tourists from Romania, Ukraine, and beyond. However, he emphasized the inability to experience 2019 numbers in the near future.
He urged Kenyans to explore destinations such as the Milda Creek, to promote community members who are keen on conserving the environment.
”I came to support them and I managed to see their restaurant project, their boardwalk which helps them earn a living,” Balala said.
The Ministry has identified five tourism brands at the coast to be marketed as key holiday destination for Kenyans. They include Diani, Mombasa, Watamu, Malindi and Lamu.
On Monday, February 22, the ministry intends to launch the Milda Creek circuit in presence of all its members. This is in a quest to attract more domestic tourists to experience nature and conservatories and enjoy the boardwalk and the dhow restaurant.
”We will officially come to launch this project, open it and see how best we can support them in their programs,” he said.
Upon the announcement of a Covid-19 Vaccine in November 2020, Balala expressed hope that the tourism sector would immensely recover and restore international confidence in the country as a tourist destination.
“But I want to say definitely with the introduction, issuance of a vaccine, I think this will remove fear and bring solutions to this sector.
“Without a vaccine, there’s no future for the tourism industry, I hope we can be able to disseminate these products all over the world in time so that next year 2021 July, we will have a semblance of business coming back to Kenya,” he asserted.