Comparing Kenya  tourist arrivals  to Morocco & South Africa not like for like 

Why continued comparison of Kenya’s tourism arrivals to South Africa or Morocco is wrong. 

In the past couple of years we have continued to compare our tourists arrival numbers to South Africa and lately Morocco. 

I will focus on South Africa and Morocco. In tourism any travel above  five hours is classified as long haul while anything below that qualifies to be a short haul destination.

For Morocco closest point to Europe is hardly 14 miles while most key source markets can access key Morocco airports in under three hours. On the other hand you need nine hours to get to Kenya and it is not cheap. South Africa is equally long haul 11+ hours  but you will soon see that their European arrivals are very similar to Kenyas. 

Morocco attracts close to 11M  tourists while South Africa received 10M in 2016 while  Kenya is hardly  hitting 1.2M tourists.  These are the numbers when thrown around makes us look like nothing when it comes to tourism.

Due to proximity to Europe coupled  with Morrocos  focus on tourism they were able to grow their numbers ten fold in ten years .As much as they are a short haul destination, the government  of Morocco  has gone the extra mile to help get those numbers . The infrastructure in Morocco is in Very good shape. Five years ago we were invited to Morocco to learn from them , we travelled by road within Morocco covering close to 1200KM  and we never saw a single pothole.  Out of the 11M it is also known that close to 3M if these have roots in Morocco. 

British , EU  and US nationals don’t need a visa to enter Morocco for the purpose of tourism for up to 3 months. On the other hand Kenya we are busy fixated on the $50 missing on the bigger picture of a potential  visitor who would have spent $5000 . 

Any nation that considers visa a source of revenue will never experience the true fruits of tourism.  Many potential visitors will not shy off because of the $50 but the thought of applying for a visa simply puts them off. Other destinations like  Sri Lanka , Thailand have Tourist  card as opposed to Visa . A visa is considered a negative in world of travel. 

In addition to visa a potential tourist to Kenya  will have to go on a malaria protection regime before and after the holiday.  The cost is anything between $50 to $100 , so a family of four will need $200+ as a minimum . Travel to Morocco  is malaria free.

In the case of South Africa, the 10M tourists 7M are from the region and they arrive in SA  via land. 2.3M Zimbabweans crossed into SA in 2016, 2.1M Lesotho nationals and 1.7M Mozambique nationals.  A country like Lesotho is completely surrounded by SA.  These guys do their basics chores  even shopping in SA.  

For South Africa real International visitors from the west are  hardly 1.2M . The US, UK and Germany are key source markets. 

So what can Kenya  learn from.SA, Morocco etc. 

1. Eradicate Visa for any would be tourist. We don’t even want three months like Morocco, just give us one month free stay and you will see the quick change.just the notion of applying for a Visa puts off a potential visitor. We all saw the benefits of children free visa. 

2. We must encourage our neighbours and Africans to visit Kenya with ease. If Dubai  can allow the millions of West Africans transiting through Dubai  access for 24 hours, why cant we also do the same instead of leaving them sleeping on the floor at JKIA.  What threat do these West Africans pose to Kenya ?  Almost nothing and it is not that they intend to live here as refugees or apply  for welfare benefits like  somwehere in the West.

3. KWS must treat other Africans as Africa and not as Europe when it comes to parks fees and marine park entry fees . When our park fees go as high as $90 ? South  Africa’s hardly gets to $40.

4. Open skies policy should NOT be limited to Nairobi. Mombasa badly needs a prope open skies and as a country we must now go out of our way to entice airlines  to come to Kenya.  Waiting for airlines to come on their own is long gone  ,we lost that window some 10 years ago. It is now for us to chase them. 
5. We must stop the harassment  of visitors  at JKIA  by Immigrations, customs and the airport police. While  at immigration alot has changed for the better, customs and the police are still a weak link . How much does KRA  collect when they insist to rummage through personal effects? It is only in Kenya that we go through  this . It is a terrible welcome 
Finally South Africa earned  $6B from 10M visitors which works out to an average spend of $600 per visitor while  Kenya we earned $1.2B  from 1M  visitors which works out to $1200 per visitor which means sometimes more is not necessarily a good thing.

Well you now understand about these arrivals and comparing Kenya to say Morocco and South Africa is not like for like. 

Is there potential to grow our numbers? YES we do but Let us focus on quality rather than quantity .

As always I choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi 

Chairman 

Kenya Tourism Federation 

Madaraka Express is what Kenya Coast Tourism needed 

#WhyILoveKenya

Impact of Madaraka  Express on Mombasa & Kenya Coast  Hotels.

Firstly SGR core business is NOT passenger service. Cargo is the core business but as tourism players we are delighted.

Allow me to explain.

We have seen the huge domestic tourism campaign over the past years.  During the travel advisories, Nairobi  residents saved Mombasa. To get to Mombasa and Kenya Coast main option was to fly or hit the road. Despite all those challenges they still helped us survive and we cannot thank them enough.

During festive and busy weekends flight cost return can oscillate  between Ksh18,000 to Ksh 40,000. A family of 4 would be expected to cough say Ksh 80,000 If we assumed a ticket would cost 20,000.

If the same family opted for Madaraka Express and paid Ksh 700PP they would be looking at Ksh 5600 only which means they will have Ksh 70,000+ to spend at a good resort. Many ME  users have told me that the economy class is perfect besides there is more life there as opposed to the 1at class and they get a game drive across Tsavo as a bonus.

A hotel may charge say 20,000   A day for 2 adults  sharing with two children.  This family will now enjoy a weekend at a decent beach resort and still be left with Ksh 30,000 . What about all the small hotels on the island? They are all busy . It’s simply amazing. Now you can  see the power of affordable reliable available mass transport system.

Accessibility  is key to any destination.  If getting to a destination becomes too expensive and unreliable  then potential clients will simply go elsewhere or choose to stay at home.

Once KR  get the online bookings in place ( please work with Ticket Sasa and conclude this matter)  and more frequencies  then I see more Nbi based firms opting to  hold their meetings in Mombasa and Kenya Coast .

In the past many firms would avoid Kenya  Coast due yo cost of flying then Naivasha was discovered. Well for Naivasha hotels I don’t have very good news for you, the cheese seems to be moving back to the coast hence you need to wake up and smell the coffee. You now need to get creative and show Nairobians  why they have to come to you.

To Mombasa and Kenya Coast hotels, please put on your thinking hats. Get creative, make it easy and memorable  for Nairobi residents to choose your resort . Make it exciting, invest in entertainment, get creative chefs and give flawless service. What about helping your clients get return tickets since that is one thing that is worrying them.

Well I have seen a surge in arrivals in many North coast resorts more so on Fridays. School groups are also opting for Madaraka Express. I saw a ladies church group the other day. Folks Madaraka Express is indeed a game changer , June a quiet month has been fairly a good one.

Once the 2nd trip is introduced we are talking of 2000+ passengers a day either way. Well the choice is yours .

As always I  choose to remain an optimist

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman

Kenya Tourism Federation

May Nakumatt rise up like the proverbial bird phoenix 

Good people every firm has its ups and downs.

Nakumatt  a Kenyan brand which is more than two decades old is going through the toughest times since inception.

Nakumatt were pioneers in one stop shopping.  They made family shopping such a pleasure  . Before they moved into TZ  and UG  , folks from Arusha would drive all the way to Nbi for shopping.

Nakumatt brought everything under one roof, from grocery to fresh vegetables to electronics and furniture.

Nakumatt  employs thousands of Kenyans not to mention the back linkage with suppliers and many other auxiliary services.

It is malicious and sickening for anyone to cook more negative stories  about Nakumatt  . They are aching, the pain they are undergoing is painful enough so let us spare them . 

When  I visit any of their stores, I see worried staff but never have I seen or heard any one of them speak Ill of their employer. They are all putting a brave face and I believe their prayers will be answered by Nakumatt turning the corner. They are currently wounded, more negative talk is not helping them. What joy do you get  painting a more gloomy picture.
My fellow Kenyans you all recall when Tuskys  were having issues , Atul  Shah  offered to arbitrate yet they were a competition. History also has it that the founding parents were close before they all grew their business big time. Onky a man who thinks abundance will dare help a competitor.
Finally to Atul Shah & family, Nakumatt  is no longer a mom & pop  store and it has never been one. It is high time you opened the business  to third party directors or Independent directors who will add tremendous value including good corporate governance.   By now Nakumatt should have gone public tapping into more funds from the bourse. Trust me you can still remain a key shareholder. What is the use to grow a business only to see it die  while solutions are in abundance?  You also need to rest and let money and professionals work for you. There is time for everything. 

On this Eid Day we have you and your loyal  staff who have served us for years with a big smile in our prayers.

Nakumatt you are considered part of our DNA  you wont  fold. You are down but you are certainly not out.  Please rise up like the proverbial phoenix bird rise and shine again.

As always I choose to remain an optimist

CNN undermining tourism recovery in Kenya 

To many people in the West, Africa is one big country. Nairobi is host to most of the International bureau chiefs due to various reasons from location to ease of accessibility ,  connectivity and comfort. 

Terror is a global concern for any traveller and the continuous  reporting  from Nairobi on terror attacks happening in places like Mali which is 6700KM+ away from Nairobi is making our own recovery a difficult one. As Kenya and Nairobi  we have had our own share of grief and this continuous tagging of Nairobi  is not doing us any justice. 

The distance from Atlanta the home of CNN to Mali  is very similar to the distance from Nairobi to Mali .  They might as well report from Atlanta. 

If you must report from Nairobi by all  means you are welcome to do it but for heaven’s sake can you take off the name Nairobi on the screen.  You may sign off as Nairobi at the end of your report but the continuous display of Nairobi is simply unacceptable. 

The continued display of Nairobi means that anyone seeing it at a glance will conclude that another terror attack is underway  in Nairobi.  We have had cancellations in hotel bookings in the past from The US, Canada, Australia et al when such screen shots are displayed for hours. Our agents in New York, Sydney, London, Tokyo etc  are always complaining. 

We shall be reaching out to the International correspondents forum in Nairobi with a view of emphasising this point.  I am afraid if we don’t make any headways  we shall also engage our good goverment and Media council in Kenya   to address the same . We also have the courts and laws of the land.

We are no longer prepared to choose to look  the other way when leading media houses like CNN continue to undermine our tourism recovery efforts.  CNN may consider this a trivial issue , for tourism players in Kenya it is a big deal. 

We are keenly watching on your next report lest you are forced to leave  and report from wherever.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman 

Kenya Tourism Federation 

Lack of basics will undermine Madaraka Express 

This morning I chose to to check out the Miritini  station.  I couldn’t believe my eyes , travellers were up queuing as early as 6.30am for a 9am trip . 

The following need to happen pronto 

1. Please get the online booking happening like yesterday.  Please spare us the ceremonies ie launch date etc.  Online booking and payment via Mpesa buses were doing it close to a decade now . If anything someone slept on the job. Get it working while you can have your ceremonies at your own pleasure 

To my fellow Kenyans meanwhile  buy your ticket  in advance.  I asked on site how many seats are remaining and they were hardly 230 yet the queue looked more than that which means many will miss a seat what a waste of time. Not nice at all.

What about the lack of shade from the elements, suppose it starts pouring, in projects management we must always keep in mind FUNCTIONALITY 

2. The SGR station was under construction for the past 3 years , did we just wake up to realise that a road is needed for accessibility?

 These are the sort of things that make  Africa ( Read Kenya )  look bad. We attend the best schools and many attend ivy league universities then  work for govemermt, travel more often and they  see the best in the world but when it comes to being proactive we fall face flat.  What execution do these guys learn in school / university? 

I believe it’s lack of passion in what they do and lack of sense of urgency . Many  behave like they have 36 hours in a day.

The chosen contractor is only making an already bad situation worse . He has left mounds of murram  to look busy yet he has relegated an already  narrow road  to a useless single lane that gets clogged . 

Why are we NOT opening the port Reitz access road for those heading to the station ? It is mortorable. 

When you are behind schedule you work 24/7 . Ngong road in Nbi a bigger project is progressing faster than the road leading to Miritini station. It’s all about the left hand not knowing  what the right hand is doing and bottom line is lack of accountability.

Totally unacceptable. 

3. Traffic police / NTSA / county traffic marshals  get to work early enough to control the impatient  truck drivers using the same road as they try to avoid the Msa Nbi road after Changamwe roundabout. 

4. Well looks the happy guys for now are the TukTuks  and Boda  Boda  ferrying passengers who are trying to beat the gridlock.  It’s good they are earning a living, I am happy for them but a world class station that is meant to  ferry a 1200+ passengers  cannot depend on motorcycles  for drop off. I am sorry it does not work this way. 

Talk of a grand beautiful project badly executed when it comes to process mapping . 

Kenyans are excited and happy about these huge  project let us NOT allow a few officials to sleep on the job. I am sure my piece  will reach the relevant officers and their superiors. World class is not attained on paper, you have to execute the same on ground.

As always I remain an optimist but this is  a complete let down by the relevant authorities.  In private sector you get FIRED, you are shown the nearest door to exit.

Mohammed Hersi 

Chairman 

Kenya Coast Tourism Association

To Kenya Railways , its time to get your ducks in a row. 

Madarak Express & Kenya Railwaya:
I am a big fan of this huge project SGR Kenya now named Madaraka Express. The niceties are now over, I am obsessed with customer care hence I will be very candid. 

It pains me a great deal to see basics missing since  the debut of Madaraka  Express 

I have always and will continue to support this project but Kenya Railways you need to get your acts together mara moja. 

I have no idea why on earth you insist on physical visits to book a train ticket, this is 2017 . Kenya Railways This is NOT 1977 . Please change your mindset, you are not running the Lunatic express anymore. You are running Madaraka Express that has cost us a leg and an arm.

A project is NOT just about hardware, we have the things you may think are mundane  or small but matters the most.  Setting up online payment with Mpesa and credit card or debit   is the easiest thing you can do to. Why would anyone not have such a basic in the first place ? What were you waiting for?  Why did you  have to wait until the last  minute to give a simple schedule.  What about if you were running multiple lines.?

We were told the operations of the train will still remain with the Chinese contractor and an Australian firm . Where are they?  Are they really on duty ?

Then finally to my fellow Kenyans we must use the facility in a civilised manner.  Standing on seats , littering the floor of the station, leaving the washrooms in a mess please get civilised. Vandalism is not just about bigger hardware but simple things inside the train equally matter . 

To Kenya Railways cute smiling girls and handsome young men in nice uniform with an oriental bow  is not everything.  There is no honeymoon if anything the next 30 days will greatly determine what images Madaraka Express will cut for itself .

Finally a staff member without a name tag has NO business being on duty.  A proper name tag not that badge hanging on your neck like you are  attending a 3 days Conference. A name badge is just that a badge something pinned on your left hand side blouse or jacket  with your name well printed for anyone to read for both positive or negative feedback  A name tag is the foundation for accountability. 

You are now in my territory of service delivery I am quite ruthless, please style up and time is indeed of the essence. What about getting your ducks in a row. 

As always I choose to remain an optimist 

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman 

Kenya Coast Tourism Association

Ronaldo, get to know him. It’s sheer hard work.

Allow me to share insights on a footballer who has grown from strength to strength. A footballer who is considered not as skilful as other greats  but works extremely hard to thrive and shine.

Last night he helped his team Real Madrid  to win the champions league back to back with ease.

I have always been meaning to pen a piece about CR7 and no better time to do it.  

From my reading allow me to share a few facts on Ronaldo and hopefully we can draw some lessons from them.

1. Christiano  Ronaldo was not even meant to be born. When his parents conceived him they already had 3 other children.  His mother confessed life was so hard and they were not ready for another child . His father was struggling to overcome alcoholism while the mother worked as a maid struggling to make ends meet. His parents had decided that the mother would abort but later on chose to see the pregnancy through. He was recently asked and he said ” I don’t blame my mother but what matters is that she chose not to and I was born ”

2. He was named Ronaldo  because the father was a big fan of Ronald Reagan who was US President when Ronaldo was born. He chose to name him Ronaldo  which was a Portuguese version of Ronald.

3. Ronaldo started playing football but at age 15 he was diagnosed with a heart condition  ” Racing Heart ” which was not a good thing.  He had to undergo surgery to mend the condition.  

4. Going to play in EPL  he was meant to sign for Liverpool but they were not keen to rock the salary structure hence Arsenal were next. Wenger even admitted that they had printed a jersey  for him.  As always Wenger  was busy pussy  footing counting coins and entered Sir Alex Ferguson who gave Ronaldo  what he was asking for and the rest as they say is history.

5. At Man United he wanted to don jersey  No 28 but Sir  Alex was not ready for that.  He insisted on No7. Ronaldo was worried that No7 was won by greats like  at George Best , Canyons, Beckham et am  and he did not want unnecessary  pressure. Sir Alex insisted on it and despite a few low times Ronaldo went on to unleash his talent and thrived.  He finally branded himself and he used the No7 to become CR7  which is now a respected money making brand.

6.Ronaldo did very well at Man United and Real came calling. Many  thought including yours truly then why would anyone leave a successful team . He moved on  becoming the most expensive footballer at that time. 

7. Well he went to Real Madrid where he has remained since then repeating one success after the other.

8. Ronaldo is known to practice for days NOT hours just to perfect a free kick style.  He knows he is not that gifted hence he makes up through practice practice  and more practice which requres serious self discipline. The book Outlier supports the same theory, they talk of 10,000 hours to master a skill .

In addition to practice he is very passionate in anything he does, we still recall images of limping Ronaldo at the Euro  finals touch line motivating his colleagues not to give up where Portugal eventualy won.  Remember he got injured forcing him to leave the pitch while he was in pain and tears .

9. Ronaldo does NOT drink or smoke . He also chose to strengthen his body to give him the power and body muscle to stay on his feet . He used to be a lanky lad. In the process he developed a 6 pack which has helped him to promote his clothing line in addition to his goal scoring prowess .

10. Ronaldo is one very generous soul helping  many around the world. A more special one is that Ronaldo does not have any tattoo  and the main reason is that he is a dedicated regular blood donor hence  tattoo is a  No No.

In the last 12 months alone Ronaldo has achieved the following :

🏆 Champions League

🏆 EUROs

🏆 Ballon d’Or

🏆 La Liga

🏆 Champions League

Good people I thought I should share this findings on  Christiano Ronaldo a player who has been misunderstood by many people but who is now getting to be known as a kind hearted human being .

What lessons do you draw from this man ?please share your thoughts .

Now you know and as always I choose to remain an optimist.

Mohammed Hersi

Kwale can create the first well planned city in Kenya thanks to the planned bypass.

#WhyILoveKenya

Why Kwale is the next big thing if only they seize the opportunity. 

Above is Muscat  Corniche drive that  can be replicated at the Tsunza waterfront.  We must avoid private homes taking up this space .

For those who are observant you would have seen the invitation by GOK for bidders to implement the 2nd and 3rd phase of the Southern  bypass commonly referred to as the  Dongo Kundu a Ksh  30B project supported by JICA

The 2nd phase starts with the Mwache bridge 660 meters which will virtually be right  opposite the Miritini SGR  station cutting through the village of Tsunza which is a peninsula.  I have marked that area in red . This area is the main reason behind this post. 

The planned bypass will cut right through the Peninsula  to exit at the second bridge whivh will be the longest in Kenya 1.4KM with dual highway with an extra lane for service vehicles and emergency lane. The Tsunza  Pennisula  is facing the port of Mombasa and the Mombasa International Airport including the SGR  station.  The view is simply stunning.

This Pennisula is close to Mombasa 7KM to Miritini  interchange  once the bypass is done but it falls under Kwale county . The size of Tsunza is more than double the size of Mombasa island hence I see nothing but win win opportunities. 

Now allow me to address the opportunities that I see . Kwale county has the luxury of setting up the first commercial hub in any county in Kenya by converting  this Pennisula  to  a well planned city in Kenya Coast. They are getting a super very modern highway that will also cut through the planned Mombasa economic zone. 

Two years ago I made a presentation on same to the county government of Kwale. They were simply amazed with what is coming their way but they must seize the opportunity and avoid the mess we have in port reitz and changamwe. 

Kwale town  can still remain the political base while Tsunza Penisula as a new city becomes the commercial hub of Kwale. Many firms name it shipping, banking , including airport hotels and business hotels will find this place an ideal to set up shop. That will only happen if strict zoning and planning is done now. Industries and go down will be located further inland. 

One thing that ought to be done is to ensure no buildings are allowed to come up on the 1st  & 2nd row .  We should NOT allow private homes coming up blocking the excellent views. 

To Kwale  county please please zone the place and do not allow industries and container yards from lining up a Ksh  32B highway.  Please do not allow speculators who will come to divde land into tiny  plots creating another slum . We already have enough slums in Kenya. We need to see service e industry occupying the first rows  creating huge employment to many not to mention the huge tax base for Kwale county.

I have chosen to showcase Muscat Corniche in Oman . I believe the ones who set up Mama Ngina  had this in mind.

The locals farm prawns and with  modern technology like in Thailand they can be allowed to do so what they love best if they do wish but in another way but the new city will also provide them with never ending opportunities 

Well  your journey to any Diani resort will take hardly 30 minutes leaving MIA  or SGR  Miritini station.

One more thing at the end of the 2nd bridge a high tower will be out up as tourist attraction to enable  you get a birds eye view of Mombasa island and the Peninsula. 

Well as always I choose to see the brighter side of life hence I choose to remain an optimist.

Now you know

To Gov Joho & CS Macharia. Kibarani traffic gridlock now needs your personal attention.

Cry my beloved city of Mombasa.

In the last few days the traffic gridlock  at Kibarani  is simply crazy .

The main cause of this mess is mainly attributed to trucks but you will ask me we have always had trucks.

Now something happened on the left side of the road as you start to ascend the Kibarani hill. Some people were allowed to reclaim land from the ocean and all three of them look like are in heavy commercial vehicle business. While going uphill  was already a challenge why would any sensible authority allow anyone to turn this area into a truck yard making an already bad situation even worse.

Now why would any authority be it county or national choose to look the other way when such crazy move is being undertaken right under their nose.

Where is NEMA  ? They never hesitate to prosecute even when you chose to alter the size of your Verandah?

Where are the overzealous county Inspectorate?

What about KPA? When private individuals are busy backfilling  the ocean again right under their watch. Is this where impunity has taken us

Now we have close to 200+ trucks entering or leaving these new land while one actually  looks like a yard to store coal. Now surely how on earth would NEMA choose to look the other way when such a serious pollutant is set up right next to a mass of water ?

The only  entry into Mombasa island now belongs to truckers  while in serious countries trucks are never allowed anywhere near the city.

For the first time I see  NO future for Mombasa.  Now that the Dongo Kundu bypass to South Coast is entering the 2nd & 3rd phase then Mombasa and it’s  little cousin Mtwapa  will be forgotten as they fight for space to be be the dirtiest and traffic gridlocked place on Kenya Coast.

To Governor Joho , you and I are close friends but I drop this right at your doorstep.  You have the power  , you have the authority to restore sanity . You have the energy ,I have seen your energy levels on other issues. This matter now needs your full attention and we can nolonger wish  it away.   I am afraid this is now sheer madness and no investor let alone a tourist be it domestic or international would waste their money on Mombasa. As Tourism stakeholders  and Mombasa residents you have our full support in stopping trucking companies turning the Kibarani area into a parking area.

To CS  Macharia  you equally need to give your personal attention to this Kibarani  woes. This is the entry and exit to Mombasa city.  We appreciate you are  focussed on the SGR but how will anyone get the new SGR station when we can’t even get past  Kibarani?

To those businessmen  I leave you with this >>>  Life is NOT all about money. You can still do legitimate business without violating the rights of others or damaging the environment. .You may pay your way to get all  the approvals.

Do you sleep well when you see the mess you are causing?

Patients dying in traffic gridlock because the ambulance could not find a way through. What  is the use to be the highest donor at your Mosque , Church or Temple when day in day out you choose to do all the wrong things. Trust me it will catch up with you. Meanwhile we shall NOT choose to look the other way , we shall ensure the authorities do the right thing.

Disclaimer: We have good serious trucking companies who operate in a professional manner. The serious ones have even bought land in Mariakani  while the lazy  ones who don’t see the future are busy insisting to have their trucks next to KPA  head office.

Mohammed Hersi

Chairman Kenya Coast Tourism Association  & a Mombasa resident.

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