Destination Marketing Company SOMAK SAFARIS, has acquired an additional 25 modified Toyota Landcruisers to enable it meet increasing demand for Kenyan tours. The company whose fleet has now doubled to 50 vehicles says the acquisition of the new vehicles was informed by its confirmed bookings and projected demand for tours across the country. According to Somak Safaris Managing Director Bushra Sultan, the local tourism sector is set to experience spike in international arrivals driven by peak demand from the UK which is one of Kenya’s leading source markets and increasing interest from the Far East.
“We have had to invest in fleet expansion to meet demand for tour services to the National Parks and the Kenyan Coast with most visitors’ keen on enjoying game related experiences. Additional demand has come from domestic tourist seeking to experience different destinations across the country, this has largely been enabled by continued investment in tourism and accommodation facilities at county level. In a sense devolution has enabled investment in non-traditional tourism destinations with the Western circuit experiencing tremendous growth.” Ms. Bushra added.
Despite the prolonged electioneering period, Kenya recorded an increase in the number of tourist arrivals over the last one year. According to the National Bureau of Statistics the number international arrivals grew by 8.1% in 2017 to stand at 1.45 million arrivals up from 1.33 million the previous year.
Toyota Kenya Managing Director Arvinder Reel, says the increase in activity within the tourism sector has spurred additional demand for modified tourist vehicles by tour operators.
“We have recorded 63% increase in demand for modified tourist vehicles in the first half of this year and project that we will surpass the total number modified tourist vehicles sold in 2017 by the end of the next quarter. Beyond the increase in sales, the sector will spur employment for body fabricators who modify the vehicles creating additional employment opportunities.” Mr. Reel added.
During this year’s budget, National Treasury Cabinet Secretary Henry Rotich expanded the duty exemptions on tourism vehicles to include sightseeing buses and overland trucks imported by licensed operators. The expansion of the exemptions is also expected to attract additional investment from motor vehicle manufacturers, assemblers and fabricators as they seek to tap into renewed demand for tourist vehicles.