Travel agents say 2018 was a good year for tourism

The Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) has described the performance of the tourism industry this year as impressive, despite this being a fairly difficult year economically.

KATA Chief Executive Officer Nicanor Sabula told Standard the industry is on a recovery path buoyed by incentives from the government and aggressive marketing of Destination Kenya by the country’s top tourism marketer, the Kenya Tourism Board.

”We have seen an increase in the number of tourists as well as airlines flying into Kenya, including the return of Air France after a 20-year absence and the recent introduction of direct flights by Qatar Airways into Mombasa from its Doha hub,” Sabula said.

He added that 2019 promises to be a good year as the industry growth picks.

”We should see the USA market leapfrog United Kingdom (UK) to become Kenya’s biggest source market, following the launch of direct flights between Nairobi and New York,” he said.

Sabula said the country is experiencing the growth of domestic and regional tourism with low-cost carriers increasing their footprint across East Africa.

”The Kenyan Coast will be the greatest beneficiary of this growth as long as the security situation prevails. We are more likely to see accommodation facilities at the Coast come under pressure to refurbish and renew.”

The CEO said KATA membership has grown overtime with a 20 per cent increase, signifying an interest in the work of KATA.

Elsewhere, hoteliers in the South Coast, Kwale County, are bracing for heightened activity as the year ends.

At the award winning Diani Reef Resort and Spa, occupancy is reported to have picked up in December.

”We have an extremely busy festive period ahead. There is renewed confidence in destination Diani by the domestic market,” Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa MD Bobby Kamani said.