(eTN) – Tourism stakeholders will wake up to a shock today when they read headlines announcing that their darling sector has been dislodged from the top of the foreign exchange earners list by the tea sector, which came just short of 100 billion Kenya shillings last financial year according to data now available.
The tourism industry in Kenya, posting an all time arrival and revenue record last year, is presently between 15 to 20 percent ahead of last year’s performance and will, according to a regular contributing source in Nairobi, “reclaim our place on top very soon.”
Efforts to increase arrivals yet more, however, now depend on the country’s ability to attract more airlines to open routes from new and emerging market places to Nairobi, while also encouraging airlines already flying to Nairobi to come more often or use larger aircraft on the route to satisfy growing demand. This, however, put the spotlight on the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA), which has been “dilly-dallying” over the expansion of Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) for too long, according to a frequent source from JKIA.
“We need that second runway now now,” he said in a telephone conversation while discussing KAA and KQ [Kenya Airways] issues overnight, “but they keep messing up what we have right now with powercuts, which ground all traffic and then the explosion of a water boiler recently. It shows we are not dealing with real professionals at KAA but bureaucrats. They need people from the airline industry in their ranks to finally understand our needs and respond to them in a timely manner.”
As Kenya’s tourism sector, booming as it is, depends nearly 100 percent on arrivals of visitors by air, the aviation infrastructure is seen as a crucial component in ensuring long-term growth and meeting the intermediate target of 2 million tourists coming to Kenya.