Hoteliers lay blame on Airbnb for forward booking drop

Hoteliers in Kenya are blaming the mushrooming Airbnb outlets across Kenya for persistent decline in forward bookings in their businesses. As of last year, the number of short term rentals popularly knows as Airbnb’s listed in Kenya were just over 10,000.

According to the Central Bank’s March 2024 Market Perceptions Survey, respondents in Kenya’s hospitality industry have also cited the country’s high cost of living as well as low purchasing power among a number of key issues that are negatively impacting their businesses this year.

What’s more, players in the sector are projecting decline in earnings from conferencing and meetings business segment as the government proceeds with the rollout of austerity measures in the months ahead.

What’s more, the move by the government last year to drastically increase park fees is forecast to erode their businesses significantly in the foreseeable future as cash strapped consumers both locally and internationally seek alternative offerings.

Last year, Kenya announced new, higher entry fees to popular destinations for both local and international tourists. For instance, Masai Mara, a popular holidaymakers’ destination famous for the wildebeest migration reviewed entry fees upwards to $100 per non-resident adults per day starting 1st January 2024 to 30th June 2024. This charge is set to double to $200 per non-resident adult per day from 1st July this year.

For tourists with accompanying children, the new rates will be $50 per day per child. Other popular destinations, Amboseli and Nakuru National parks, also increased their park entry fees to $100 starting July this year up from $60 previously.

Read also: Flydubai’s direct flights to Mombasa propel tourism revival

Unregistered Airbnb premises

“Foreign bookings are being done close to the arrival dates, most locals not booking prior to arrival, and the mushrooming of Airbnb’s, which for a long time were not being regulated as reasons for the low forward bookings” CBK’s Market perceptions survey notes in part.

Following a series of assault and murder cases targeting women in unregistered Airbnb premises in Nairobi by the end of 2023, the Ministry of Interior took action in January, ordering the immediate registration of all such outlets across the county.

The ministry’s directive came just days after the Private Security Regulatory Authority also rolled out new safety protocols to enhance security in Airbnbs. Currently, security guards are required to record the details of individuals entering Airbnbs, including their time of entry and exit. The guards are also tasked with temporarily retaining the IDs of Airbnb guests.

International arrivals in Kenya surged to 1.95 million people compared to 1.48 million recorded in 2022 as the industry showed strong rebound from the 2020 Covid winter when Kenya received just 569,848 holiday makers.

Last year’s strong performance saw Kenya record the highest earnings in tourism receipts, up to $2.7 billion from $2 billion in the preceding year.

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