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Hate to Say I Told you So

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Sometimes the things in the headlines fail to surprise and fail to make the most basic definition of “news.” Mazera Ndurya’s article in The Nation yesterday carries the revelation that hotels are struggling to fill vacancies after the festive period as the new economic reality begins to bite.

Apparently tourist numbers have fallen, not just because of western holiday firms amending their recommendations after the post-election violence last year, but also because of the global financial crisis. Does this mean Kogelo is not going to get a luxury spa and Obama Experience theme park?

Apparently, domestic tourism picked up the slack over the Christmas season, with tourists from Eastern and Central Africa making up the numbers to keep the hoteliers happy. But now, with the realisation that the Europeans might choose to holiday on their own continent, the tourism sector is scrabbling for a solution.

I believe I have one: it may not be to everyone’s liking, but it just might work. Although rates were lowered for domestic visitors, they need to go lower. Margins need to be cut, less profit needs to be made per visitor, and the hotels need to adopt a “pile ’em high, sell ’em cheap” mentality when it comes to their rooms. We’re all suffering in this downturn, and there are no clear signs as to when the pain will end. In order to stay in business, profit margins will need to be cut and managers will need to do more with less. It is now a buyer’s market, and I, for one, expect to be courted. No money – in any currency – will be leaving my wallet until I am offered a good deal.

Losing tourism revenue would be devastating for the economy. But until the sector itself recognises the quandry that it is in, I do not expect to hear good tidings from their accountants until they have taken remedial action. Let’s just hope, for their sakes, that they do it sooner rather than later.

[Image by West Bay Banjo]

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