Denis Foynes – Last week’s blaze in Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi is a disaster for Kenya’s progress.
The early morning fire destroyed the airport’s arrivals building, forcing sub-Saharan Africa’s fourth-busiest airport to close temporarily, causing delays and producing costs for airlines. Kenya Airways chief executive Titus Naikuni said the airline has so far lost about US$4 million in revenue.
The biggest problem for the country will be the impact on the tourism sector. Tourism is the country’s second highest income earner with approximately two million people traveling to the nation each year.
Kenya is home to wildlife reserves, including Tsavo National Park, the world-famous Maasai Mara and right now it is high season as the stunning annual wildebeest migration is currently on show at the parks.
The government had been aiming to attract three million visitors by 2015 by looking to new markets such as Mexico, Brazil, Morocco, Ethiopia, Zambia, and Uganda. This now looks very doubtful.
It had seemed possible that Kenya could bring in these huge numbers of tourists especially after last March’s peaceful general election had helped rebuild Kenya’s reputation as a peaceful and politically stable country
Kenya’s vegetable and flower export industries have also been hit. Kenya’s agricultural industry typically brings in about US$3.9 billion yearly.