Nairobi Star: Local tourists to benefit from new cheap packages

LOCAL tourists are set to benefit from cheaper tourism packages next year in an initiative to be launched in November.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala said yesterday that his ministry is in consultation with stakeholders in the industry with the aim of coming up with ideas to make tours cheaper for locals, most of whom cannot enjoy safaris and other leisure activities due to high costs.

"We have declared 2010 the year of domestic tourism. We want to boost this area of tourism by encouraging intra-African travel and also make Kenyans understand that tourism is not just going to the beach or the Mara, there are other areas as well," Balala said.

To start off, the ministry wants school and university holiday schedules altered so that they do not coincide with the tourism high seasons as is the case currently.

"We want the Ministry of Education to consider changing the holiday months so that the students go for holidays during the low season because when the holidays coincide with the high season, hoteliers and tour operators cannot bring the price down," the minister said.

He however noted that the plan is at its initial stages and that Tourism ministry officials will be meet with their Education counterparts in the coming weeks to deliberate on the matter.

The two tourism high seasons in Kenya fall between the months of July to September and December to February. School holidays are in April, August and December.

The ministry has been allocated Sh30 million for domestic tourism in the current financial year and, according to Balala, part of the money will be used to market new tourism attractions like the Western circuit.

Balala said tourism is performing well having recovered very well adding that the industry is reaching the same profit levels of 2007, the most successful year. Sh62 billion profit was earned that year.

The minister note that the industry is promising citing the launch of new charter flights from Europe directly to Mombasa as a big boost.

The three flights from Brussels, Paris and Amsterdam will start operating between October and November.

Meanwhile Balala revealed that the newly appointed Managing Director of the Kenya Tourism Board shall report to office on 21st October because he was still finishing his contract at East African Cables Tanzania.

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