By Stanley Wabomba
Hoteliers and those selling various tourism products have been put on the spot over exorbitant pricing.
According to tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, over pricing is dealing a blow to the government’s incentives which seek to turn around the sector to its former golden era.
Speaking at the tourism summit at the Statehouse Mombasa, Balala challenged tour operators to offer free Wi-Fi and industry players to be keen innovation such availing broadband in their areas of operation as the ministry embarks on a vigorous online marketing strategy.
“Think of visiting Diani now, accommodation for one night could easily cost you 20,000 shillings, same as the capital city Nairobi. Drive down to Naivasha which is just under an hour from Nairobi, you will pay 22,000 shillings for a night. If you are big spender, and drive or fly to the Maasai Mara, you could easily pay Ksh 100,000 shillings for a night. This is working against domestic tourism marketing initiatives. But choose to fly to the 8th wonder for a vacation, you will be in for a surprise,” says the CS.
Such is the absurdity that has been pointed out during the tourism summit which according to Balala, hinders the country from hitting the 3 million tourist arrivals by next year as market has stagnated.
Among incentives offered by the government in the current financial year include, free visa for children aged 16 and below for all nationalities, reduction in park fees by 3,000 shillings to 6,000 shillings.
For charter flights with 80% of passengers terminating or disembarking in Kenya and with commitment to operate in Kenya for 2 years, there is a passenger subsidy of 30 dollars per seat filled with international passengers.This is besides infrastructure development in Mombasa and Malindi.
Availing internet in hotels and tour vans will do just fine in helping visitors market Kenya online.
Balala says a cruise ship berth at the Port of Mombasa will be ready next year.