Boosting occupancies or keeping RevPAR up – hard choices for Kenya’s hospitality industry

THE DILEMMA OF LOW OCCUPANCIES

(Posted 12th January 2015)

With the high season over the holidays truly over now have occupancies in many of the coastal resorts but also the safari lodges across Kenya returned to pre-Christmas lows. The continued struggle by the country’s marketers to portray the Kenya coast as safe to visit – and indeed there have been no major security incidents for a while now – and lure tourists back to the beaches and safari parks, has not yet yielded the turnaround many are now hoping for in the new year.

The domestic travel market is normally restricted to long weekends and the school holidays, especially over the festive season, when it was Kenyans and East African residents giving occupancies a massive boost. With all hands on deck at work however has this market now reduced to much lower levels too and resorts and safari lodges are seeking ways and means to spur demand.

A number of mails received over the past few days indicates that several properties have started to charge Kenyans and East African residents unseasonally low rates already, nearly as low as the traditional low season after Easter until the end of June or mid July and Air Kenya too has followed suit. They announced over the weekend that they will bring forward their own low season rates to become effective already on 15th of January when they said: ‘In a bid to kick start 2015, AIRKENYA has made the decision to bring forward the LOW SEASON fares to 15th January 2015. What this means is that the Low season fares which normally take effect from 1st April – 30th June 2015, will instead start as soon as 15th Jan – 30th June 2015.

We hope our gesture will go a long way towards improving your sales, packages, circuits into Kenya’s finest locations, especially this time of the year when Kenya’s weather is; hot with lots of sunshine everywhere!

The High Season operational Schedule/Timetable remains in place until 31st March 2015’.

The impact on the market will be closely monitored of course to see what improvements in occupancies on flights, in lodges and resorts this measure will bring and no doubt will Tourism Kenya wait with bated breath now to get the statistics for the full year 2014 and publish them. ‘It is important we get those figures very quickly now to see the trend in arrivals. In the absence of hard data it is very difficult to react to patterns. There are major tourism trade shows coming up over the next few months, starting with FITUR in Spain and leading to ITB in Berlin in March. We need to be armed with facts and the sooner we know how the year ended the better. I admire how you got the figures from the Seychelles in the space of a few days and were able to publish them. We need to understand that statistics and data are tools of our trade and not state secrets as you often put it. The challenge is on KTB now to get us the data so when we go out to promote we do it on an informed basis, knowing the performance of each country of origin of our tourists’.

I think no one can argue with that but the most hardcore sycophants who continue to mistake and misrepresent media critique, no matter how constructive it is, as attempts to bring Kenya down. For them too will 2015 hopefully bring a change of direction. Watch this space.

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