Kenya comes up with drastic measures to save tourism

President Uhuru Kenyatta issued a statement last week in response to the crisis in the tourism industry. According to the statement, starting 12 June 2014, companies will be allowed to pay for their employees leave expenditures, and deduct such expenditures from their taxes. This is all in an effort to revive Kenya’s tourism industry which has been heavily affected by insecurity.

Kenya is hoping this strategy will have more guests staying at hotels, and therefore help the hotels stay in business. If at least 25,000 Kenyans get a week’s holiday every month paid for by the companies they work for, that amounts to about 300,000 more guests in Kenya’s hotels.

This and a few more drastic measure are the solutions that were discussed in a meeting between the president and various stakeholders following travel advisories from UK,US and France, and an evacuation order from UK citing insecurity along the Kenyan Coastline. These advisories left many tourism stakeholders disappointed and frustrated, and worsened the position of Kenya’s tourism industry.

In addition to the free holidays, president Uhuru gave a directive that all resources otherwise budgeted for foreign visits at the National Government level should be reallocated to domestic travel to boost recovery of the tourism industry. He also encouraged the parliament and Judiciary to do the same.

Another measure discussed and that the government is ready to implement is the exemption of all air ticket services from Value added tax, to boost the country’s popularity as a tourist destination. The country’s revenue authority was also given instructions to clear all tax refunds owed to the tourism industry.

Tourism is major contributor to Kenya’s economy, and the government is hoping that these drastic solutions will help revive the industry.

Still in a bid to increase the number of locals visiting and using tourism facilities, the ban on public services using private hotels for meetings and conferences is to be lifted, and Kenyans will be offered cheaper tourism packages than foreign tourists. The preferential rates include: reduced entrance fees into parks where non-Kenyan visitors will be charged $80 from $90, and locals will pay Kshs.1000, from 1200 before.

Stakeholders in the tourism industry are in agreement with these measures and applaud the government for taking such decisive and drastic decisions to save the industry. Hopefully, Kenya safaris will re-gain popularity soon

The changes agreed upon by the government are to be included in Kenya’s budget for the financial year 2014/2015 which will be tabled in parliament next month.