Travel through the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is witnessing a steady drop of more than 50 percent due to the prolonged electioneering period.
The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) said, “Overall air ticket bookings from various booking channels by travel agents have dropped by about 10 percent from 1.7 million to 1.5 million for the period ending September compared to same period last year,” KATA CEO Nicanor Sabula said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
“What we can only hope for now is that this will be short lived – that this political impasse will be resolved within the next week or two and that Kenya will regain its rightful place as the leader for trade and investment in East Africa,” said Vice Chairperson Shazmin Manji.
According to Sabula, agents have averagely recorded a 30 percent drop in business as a result of cancellations or no bookings, and this could even be higher for agents that heavily rely on government business as with reports indicating drops of up to 50 percent.
“It is estimated that with average monthly ticket sales of about 50 million U.S. dollars, the industry has in the last two months alone lost about 15 million dollars worth of sales as a result of the ongoing political uncertainty. This could rise to over 30 million dollars if the current impasse is not quickly resolved,” said Sabula.
We are 8 pax in a 96-seater KQ. Since economic progress cannot be achieved in a dysfunctional political system, let’s FIX GOVERNANCE first! pic.twitter.com/FGKHostleo
— Silas Jakakimba (@silasjakakimba) October 28, 2017
— Eyder Peralta (@eyderp) October 27, 2017
On the other hand, Cabinet Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Najib Balala notes that tourist arrivals are expected to drop in 2017 due to the prolonged electioneering period.
“However, we project that overall tourism arrivals for 2017 will decline as bookings have dropped for the second half of the year due to the ongoing political uncertainty.”
In September, Dr. Patrick Njoroge, Governor Central Bank of Kenya noted that the tourism and hospitality sector has exhibited strong growth.
“Tourist arrivals in Jomo Kenyatta international airport are close to 2013 levels with July arrivals almost at 100,000, but what is interesting is that even as we have recovered substantially in Nairobi, arrivals in Mombasa remain depressed,” said Njoroge.
He also cited that tourist arrivals in Kenya for 2017 remained ‘weaker than 2016’ for the remaining three months of the year.
October 39 percent, November 40 percent and December 37 percent compared to 63 percent, 55 percent and 51 percent respectively in 2016.
“The political noise level increases then consumers will delay their decisions and this will ultimately have a knock-on effect on the economy,” Njoroge had observed.
The latest data from ForwardKeys, a flight monitoring company, Kenya comes a distant third after Kilimanjaro (Tanzania), and Kigali (Rwanda) leading in total scheduled capacity for international flights to the end of the year.
“Kigali is leading the growth, up 89 percent, due to seven new routes, three of them originating in Brussels, Kilimanjaro 28 percent and Nairobi at 14 percent.”
The report notes that “ The East African Community (EAC), destinations have seen strong growth of 12.2 percent this year, particularly from European visitors, up 16.3 percent.”
In 2016, Kenya recorded 1.3 million international arrivals against 1.18 million received in 2015.