Kenya Suffers From Slump in Holiday Sales

Oliver Smith, The Daily Telegraph, March 26, 2012

A report, by Hayes & Jarvis, the tour operator, shows how recent civil unrest and the ongoing threat of piracy have affected visitor numbers.

At least six people were killed in Nairobi earlier this month in a series of explosions, while the Foreign Office currently advises against all but essential travel to parts of the country within 60km of the border with Somalia, due to several recent kidnappings. The warning puts a large number of resorts, including those in the popular Lamu Archipelago, out of the reach of ordinary travellers. Last week Judith Tebbutt, a 57-year-old Briton, was released by her Somali captors more than six months after she was abducted from the Kiwayu beach resort, close to the border. Her husband David was killed during the attack.

“Unsurprisingly, Kenya has performed very poorly in the last few weeks with bookings down 58 per cent,” said Niel Alobaidi, commercial director of Hayes & Jarvis. “What has surprised us is that South Africa and Tanzania have also seen much reduced booking levels.

“Previously these destinations have performed strongly whenever Kenya has suffered, as customers switched to another area. This time, however, the current issues appear to be affecting demand across Eastern and Southern Africa.”

The long-haul specialist also reported that bookings for the Caribbean have risen, while Egypt’s recovery – following a year of revolution and violent protests – remains slow.

It said that bookings to the Caribbean were up by 37 per cent overall, and by 800 per cent to the Dominican Republic. This comes despite fears over the impact of Air Passenger Duty – which is said to unfairly penalise Britons flying to the Caribbean. The research is supported by the Post Office, which recently reported an increase in sales of the Barbados dollar (+12 per cent since last year) and the Trinidad and Tobago dollar (+22 per cent).

Although sales of packages to Egypt are up by 110 per cent since this time last year, Hayes & Jarvis said this was below expectations, and a reflection of how badly the country suffered in the aftermath of last year’s revolution.

“Despite plenty of excellent offers for Egypt throughout the last 12 months, it is only in the last month that we have seen any signs of a positive reaction in the market,” said Mr Alobaidi. “It will still take time for Egypt to win back business to the levels it enjoyed in 2010.”

It added that sales of holidays to Mexico have risen by 258 per cent since 2010, when British Airways launched direct flights to Cancun, while bookings to Sri Lanka have fallen by 43 per cent.