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Kenya tourism official urges industry players to tame pricing to lure more clients


A southern white rhino and her calf are seen inside the Nairobi National Park with the Nairobi skyline in the background, in Kenya, June 15, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala, has urged players in the industry to make it affordable in order to attract more numbers both locally and from abroad.

Balala made the remarks in an interview with local Citizen television, where he lamented the high cost of tourism in the East African country.

“This is the problem I have with the industry. We have overpriced ourselves. And if you look at Kenya – even the people who come to Kenya – people come once in a lifetime. Why do we have to get people once in a lifetime? Because it is very expensive to come to Kenya,” he said.

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Balala noted that the high cost of tourism in Kenya had a ripple effect, which ends up dragging the economy behind.

He noted that the fewer number of tourists means the industry does not employ as many Kenyans as it should hence the country does not realize its economic potential from the industry.

“We need to make it affordable. I don’t say make it cheap, but make it affordable even for Kenyans ourselves,” Balala noted.

He noted that Kenya’s tourism industry had taken a huge hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which ground many sectors of the economy to a halt.

Balala however said the situation could not have been so bad if local tourism was made affordable.

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“Everybody wants to leave Nairobi or leave Mombasa, and people are traumatized by this pandemic. They want a break. They want to breathe. But then, at what price? They’ll prefer to sit in their gardens or go upcountry to their farms and then enjoy themselves as families rather than going and discovering and giving businesses to those lodges or hotels in the Coast,” he said.

“So these are the challenges we have, because the pricing is not right for the Kenyan market yet.”

Last month, the Tourism CS said Kenya’s tourism had lost about $800 million due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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