There has been growth in searches and bookings to East African Community countries with Tanzania leading as a leisure destination.
This is according to data by the Kenya Association of Travel Agents (KATA) and Amadeus search and agency booking which shows a very slight improvement in both outbound and inbound search demand and booking volumes for 2021 year to date, while compared to the same period in 2020.
The booking agency indicates that travel demand remains significantly below pre-COVID-19 levels owing to international travel restrictions in key markets in Europe, North America and Asia.
According to KATA, there has been a growing demand for inbound travel into Kenya from USA, Germany and UK.
“Domestic travel searches remain high as people are looking to travel more within the country. However, overall travel demand to and from Kenya stands at -69.9% in June 2021 compared to same time in 2019,” the travel agents noted.
The data presented indicated that COVID-19 related restrictions were a showstopper as 84 percent of respondents said they will not travel if there is a chance of quarantine.
This is even as the United Nations’ World Travel Organization (UNWTO) continues to caution that it is important for countries to start lifting travel restrictions to significantly improve traveler confidence.
Commenting on the same, Jamel Chandoul Senior Vice President, MEA Amadeus noted that recovery will be driven by rebuilding traveler confidence and trust; trust for travelers that travel is safe and trust that governments can control the pandemic.
A separate survey by Amadeus drawn from the “Rebuild Travel Digital Health Survey 2021” indicates that 92 percent of global travelers still have concerns about travelling.
According to the survey, the top 3 travel concerns in 2021 are mixing with crowds at airports etc at 48 percent, trust issues if accommodation is adhering to health and safety guidelines at 47 percent and safety and cleanliness of public transport at 46 percent.
The survey further indicated that confidence to travel is high and the current appetite for travel stands at 41 percent globally.
“Travel tech has also been seen as a key confidence booster among travelers and if well deployed could be paramount to help restart global travel. 91 percent of travelers indicated that they were comfortable using a digital health passport for future travel,” the report said.
Additionally, the survey noted that industry collaboration is also key to reigniting global travel.
Between 72 percent-74 percent of travelers said they were willing to store travel health data electronically, if it enables them pass through airports faster and travel to more destinations while 68 percent of travelers are willing to share health data if the airlines that they frequently fly with offer to store it.
“A renewed travel industry will require collaboration between governments, travel companies, entrepreneurs, and public authorities,” said Chandoul.
The findings of the survey comes at a time when a report by the Central Bank of Kenya has revealed that bed occupancy in some Kenyan hotels increased to 30 percent in June and July, respectively, from 19 percent in April.
Bed occupancy in hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa counties improved in July, while the occupancy in the rest of the country declined.
The occupancy levels in hotels in Nairobi and Nakuru counties were boosted by the World Rally championship in June.
The report noted that hotels in Nakuru County reported that they were fully booked during this event.
In addition, the end of financial year expenditure by the national and county governments boosted hotels operations in the rest of the country in June.
Hotels in Mombasa reported improved business in July 2021, mainly attributed to the July school holiday and the high season for tourists.
Consistent with the improved level of bed occupancy, the utilization of restaurant services improved to 38 percent in July from 35 percent in June.
“The utilization of the restaurant services in Nairobi has continued to improve since April following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions on May 2. The uptake of the restaurant services in the rest of the country improved in June boosted by the World Rally Championship (WRC) event in Nairobi and Nakuru,” the report noted.