Oil Boom Throws Kenyan Hoteliers Lifeline

Oil Boom Throws Kenyan Hoteliers Lifeline

Hoteliers, one of the hardest hit businesses by rising violence in Kenya, may have been offered a lifeline as new oil find in Turkana County is boosting the influx of foreigners.

Kenya’s tourism sector has contributed 15 percent to GDP in recent years, but a spike in local violence is chasing more tourists from the East African economic powerhouse. International warnings prompted the exit of the unnerved tour companies that evacuated clients from Mombasa, Kenya’s coastal tourist hub months ago.

Empty luxurious hotels and resorts on Lamu Island were the result of a exodus. Operators have given up and are now admitting it could take years to restore confidence after seeing a continuous downward trend in tourism inflow.

While tourism has failed hoteliers on Lamu Island, hoteliers in Lokichar region in Turkana County are expanding their bed capacity to accommodate the increased number of visitors in the region.

“We are going to expand our bed capacity as we capitalise on increased number of people who are seeking accommodation here,” said Willie Roberts, the director of African Camp Solutions (ACS).

ACS has leased a large expanse of land from Turkana County, as it seeks to expand its multi-million resort with a capacity of 81 beds, up from just 8 it had about a year ago.

British oil exploration firm Tullow Plc has made multiple discoveries in the region and has continued exploration, working with its partner Africa Oil.

The discovery of oil has brought about a new demand for luxurious accommodation, as expatriates come to work in the oil fields.

Airlines are also starting to recognise the emergence of a new business environment in Kenya, with Nairobi-based low-cost airline, Fly 540 and international cargo aircraft, Astral Aviation both expressing plans to start flying to Lokichar using the Kapese airstrip owned by ACS.

“The two weekly flights that we want to start will reduce considerably the transit time for oil and gas shipments from the current three days by road to only an hour by air,” said Sanjeev Gadhia, managing director of Astral Aviation.

With more business opportunities opening up in the region, demand for luxury accommodation is increasing; players in Kenya’s hospitality industry, especially hoteliers in Lamu, still bearing the brunt of violence in the region, should take note.

Source: Ventures Africa