The Kenya Tourism Board yesterday released data for the months of January 2014 to June 2014 and for those with their fingers on the pulse of the industry there were few surprises.
Figures confirmed what the industry already knew by heart, a sustained downward trend of arrivals.
The release, just days after the end of the annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo, might have been one of the big taking points in the corridors of the exhibition, perhaps a reason for the timing of the data being made available this week rather than earlier.
The downturn of arrivals in Nairobi stood for the first six months of the year at 12.3 percent, which in real numbers translates to 358,977 versus 409,130 while Mombasa’s downturn was in percentage terms twice as bad with a 24 percent reduction which in real numbers translates to 69,246 in 2014 versus 91,030 in 2013.
Industry analysts are now waiting for the data covering the months between July and September for Q3 to establish what impact the various incidents in Lamu county – namely the Mpeketoni attacks – and in the old town of Mombasa will have had on the industry’s performance as they were followed up by crippling anti-travel advisories from the British Foreign & Commonwealth Office, then swiftly echoed by some other Western nations, resulting in the abrupt withdrawal of charter flights from Britain to Mombasa.
While Britain has since then began to tone down their travel warnings and removed their blanket ‘No Go’ for Kenya’s capital Nairobi to just the Eastleigh area of the city, it is still some way off to do the same for the coast. British High Commissioner Christian Turner told this correspondent last week during a brief meeting at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo’s main welcome cocktails that additional work needed to be done by Kenya’s security apparatus before the coast advisory wording could be changed with particular reference to the Likoni area, a crucial transit bottleneck with vehicles on both sides of the channel lined up to access the ferry crossing.
Meanwhile though was it learned that the German travel advisory for visits to Mombasa was over the weekend changed and now only includes the recommendation not to visit the old town of Mombasa while the rest of the city, including the main market, have now been cleared again.
Meanwhile a Nairobi-based commenter reacted yesterday late evening to the figures when he wrote: “We knew it was bad, the figures only confirm what we sensed and what our own market research suggested. Are we through the worst now? Let’s hope so! It is now really all down t the government to keep a handle on things and that with time the tourists will return.”
In stark contrast, members of Chinese tour groups told this correspondent on location at one of the resorts on Lake Naivasha that they were not worried at all, using their freshly-acquired Kiswahili words “Kenya Hakuna Matata,” telling of their trouble-free experience while on safari across the country.