After a series of unfortunate security incidences in our country, several foreign governments, who are our major tourist clients, have been issuing travel advisories. This has led the Kenyan government to act first to save a dire situation.
In a rather radical and ambitious move, President Uhuru, Kenya’s president, has come up with 8 tourism revival strategies which have seen him make several dramatic changes in an effort to save the industry from further hurt. I have summarised them below.
1. Introduce Employer Paid Holidays
The Government, with effect from 12th June 2014, will now allow all corporate and business entities to pay vacation trip expenses for their staff on annual leave in Kenya and deduct such expenditures from their taxes.
This means that every month at least 25,000 Kenyans will get to go on week-long holidays paid for by their employers, bringing the total additional number of domestic tourists in Kenya to 300,000.
2. Waive Tax on Air Tickets
With effect from 29th May 2014, all air ticketing services supplied by travel agents shall be exempt from 16% VAT. This was done to enhance Kenya’s competitiveness in the region.
3. Refund Outstanding Income Tax
The president announced that all outstanding income tax-related refunds owed to tourism industry players will be paid out by the Kenya Revenue Authority no later than 29th May 2014. This was meant to improve the liquidity and cash flow of the sector.
4. Slash Fees for Premium Parks
To further encourage local guests in our National parks and attract both regional and international tourists, all park fees currently set at USD 90.00 per non-resident and KES 1,200.00 per resident guest shall be reduced to USD 80.00 and KES 1,000.00, respectively. This would take effect from 12th June 2014.
5. Reduce Landing Fees at Moi and Malindi Airports
To encourage both local and international flights into Moi International Airport and Malindi Airport, the Government has reduced landing charges by 40% and 10% respectively with immediate effect.
6. Lift Ban on Public Service Conferences
The earlier ban on government through a National Treasury Circular restricting the public service from holding conferences and other meetings in private hotels was lifted with immediate effect. This means it will now be possible for the public sector to hold conferences and meetings in private hotels throughout the country as and when the need arises.
7. Upgrade Malindi Airport to International Status
The Government has allocated adequate resources to expand Malindi Airport to international standards to allow for larger commercial aircraft to land. This will encourage the growth of charter tourism.
8. Reallocate Government Foreign Travel Budgets to Domestic Travel
All budgetary allocations, at the National Government, earmarked for foreign travel would now be shifted to domestic travel to further give impetus to the tourism sector recovery. President Uhuru urged all the County Governments to also follow suit.
In addition to the 8 tourism revival measures above, a couple of other ideas were identified including offering the industry better vacation packages to Kenyans compared to what they offer international package tours valued at USD 60.00 daily per person on full board.
The Government also promised the development and launch of an interactive Kenya Tourism Portal, within a week, which would be used to promote and manage the booking and distribution of domestic guests under the Tourism Stimulus Program.
Finally, President Uhuru announced that within two weeks of his speech, a comprehensive promotional campaign program to popularise both international and domestic tourism would be set in top gear.
Do you think these tourism revival measures will work? Share your thought.