KWS targets campers to lift domestic tourism

Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is targeting couples with 300 camping tents as it seeks to rev up domestic tourism numbers by opening up less-visited national parks and reserves.

The tents, with an accommodation capacity of two people, have already been distributed to Shimba Hills national reserve, Mt Elgon, Chyulu Hills, Tsavo East and West Ruma and marine national parks at the Coast. KWS has committed to cut down camping costs, though it did not indicate the percentage or actual value.

“The move comes as a result of a high demand for camping facilities following the growing interest in domestic travel among Kenyans. Camping in particular is a preferred choice compared to hotel experience,” said KWS in a statement.

Domestic and foreign tourists are also seeking flexibility out of their hotel experience that will allow them to cook and take part in pleasure activities such as team building, biking, nature walks and mountain climbing. The initiative backs Kenya Tourism Board’s campaign for domestic tourism dubbed ‘Tembea Kenya’.

World Travel and Tourism Council put Kenya’s domestic travel spending at Sh234 billion (58.1 per cent of direct travel and tourism revenues) in 2014 with the rise in middle-class population set to drive up margins by 5.5 per cent by end of this year.

“Domestic tourists have bolstered revenues for hotels in Kenya’s coastal towns and cities,” said The Report Kenya 2016 published by Oxford Business Group.

During the 2014 Christmas season, occupancy rates in Mombasa’s hotels catapulted to between 80 and 100 per cent with local tourists accounting for 70 per cent of bookings at a time when international arrivals dipped.

Foreign visitors dropped by 25 per cent to 284,313 between January and May this year following a spate of terror attacks in the north-eastern parts of the country.

However, the visit by the US President Barack Obama during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and his government’s commitment to assist in the war against terror, as well as lifting of travel bans by the UK, has helped lift arrival numbers.

Pope Francis’ visit and December’s World Trade Organisation (WTO) ministerial meeting are set to further boost earnings for the sector.

Source: Mediamax Digital