THE CIRCULAR

Domestic tourism vs The Pandemic in Kenya

Photo by Nataliya Vaitkevich: https://www.pexels.com/photo/map-and-a-compass-7235893/

As some countries start to move forward and transition back to normal there are many lessons to be learned from the pandemic. In a country like Kenya where the economy depends highly on tourism among other sectors, the pandemic proved that the Government needs to make significant investments in Domestic Tourism due to its innate ability to withstand external shocks.

While the Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism in many nations across the globe, for a country like Kenya whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is substantially dependent on the International tourism industry, the Government was forced to institute an overhaul in their approach to tourism (which is the state’s second-largest income-generating activity).

While the Coronavirus pandemic has had a significant impact on tourism in many nations across the globe, for a country like Kenya whose Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is substantially dependent on the International tourism industry, the Government was forced to institute an overhaul in their approach to tourism (which is the state’s second-largest income-generating activity).

Though prior to the pandemic the country has not been known to be the most budget-friendly, the effects of the pandemic have led to an increased cost of living. In 2021, the tourism ministry focused on promoting domestic tourism: Consequently, it encouraged the renting out of Airbnb’s, private villas, and furnished homes as holiday homes. However, most Kenyans were not appeased by this idea and promptly took to Twitter to speak against the government’s move: For many Kenyans, tourism has always been synonymous with resorts and Game parks, which are typically marketed to the international visitors at price-points that don’t encourage local tourism.

From a recent conversation with a friend, it is clear that not many have travelled to the major tourists attractions sites despite living so close to these areas or having the opportunity; owing to the fact that these were either too expensive, or the packages offered were focused majorly on International travellers with nothing for local travellers. In order to survive the travel restrictions accompanying the global pandemic, the tourism industry was forced to turn to local travel:

The of local hotels were left with no international market and most had to offer discounts to attract more clientele. In April 2021, new guidelines were effected as the Kenyan Government in a bid to profit from the changing dynamics within this sector. The new regulations have seen many owners of these establishments pay for added permits such as those for business establishments, environmental protection, liquor license, health and advertising, which will inevitably mean that domestic tourism will grow to become more unaffordable to the market that they plan to be catering to.

On the flipside, the business daily reported an increase in number of bookings at the beginning of the 2021 of Airbnb and furnished homes as many domestic tourists are seeking less crowded destinations that can easily be accessed by road and not air. In 2022 there has also been an increase in number of International tourists coming into the country though the sector is starting awaken back to normal the return is slow as it is highlighted by the Guardian.

Seeing that the industry is becoming heavily reliant on Domestic travel affordability should be paramount, but the high prices of licences and permits will be a major challenge is defining the success of the Government plan to have more domestic travel. As the tourism industry is not fully back to normal Kenyans looking to travel have a great chance to explore the country and tick off a few bucket list items before the resorts and hotels are fully booked. Ms Kate Kendy a Food, Travel and Lifestyle digital content creator, could not have said any better as she highlights travel can be cheap if it is planned for.

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