Kenya: Peace at last!


(eTN) – As former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan brokered a peace deal on Thursday between the Kenyan government, led-by President Mwai Kibaki, and opposition leader Raila Odinga, jubilations broke out across the Eastern African nation’s population. Neighboring countries, too, breathed a sigh of relief over the deal, which is likely to see Odinga claim a newly-created prime minister’s position, however, thought to be subordinate to the President.

President Kikwete of Tanzania, his predecessor Mkapa and other dignitaries, witnessed the signing of the deal, which was initiated by Annan in a marathon series of closed door negotiations, often thought at the brink of collapse but finally succeeding due to the personal influence and creativity of the diplomatic supremo.

With the deal done, it is now time – just ahead of the forthcoming ITB – to review anti-travel advisories, restore charter flights to Mombasa and bring tourism back to normal – as it was before the end December elections. Kenya has suffered enough–tens of thousands of people lost their jobs, not only in the tourism industry but across the entire economy.

Bringing tourists back to Kenya, and the wider region, is now a paramount obligation to all of Kenya’s friends near and far, so that people laid off can return to work and begin restoring order in their personal lives once again.

Need is evident for events like the forthcoming Karibu Tourism and Travel Fair, the Leon Sullivan Africa meeting and the Africa Travel Association annual convention in Arusha to focus in rapidly increasing tourist arrivals to Kenya, as this will benefit the entire region, where drops in occupancy during the current high season were also witnessed.

Kenya’s tourism sector is gearing up towards the challenge to put the past two months behind and look ahead in rebuilding tourism businesses. One of the strongest delegations ever assembled is now heading towards Berlin for ITB to see clients before, during and after the world’s biggest tourism trade show to reassure them all that “hakuna matata” (no worries for the rest of your days) has indeed returned to Kenya.