Statement By Kenya Tourism Federation
The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) is the umbrella body for all the mainstream
Associations representing the Tourism industry whose members include this country’s leading tour operators, travel agents, hoteliers, air operators, eco-tourism operators covering all of Kenya, Nairobi, up-country and coast.
Members of the tourism fraternity have noted, with grave concern, the developments arising from the recently concluded General Elections 2007. The violent confrontations that have been witnessed between groups of demonstrators and the Police, as well as the reports of conflicts between supporters of the various political parties are causing hardship and suffering for all the Kenyans caught up in the violence as well as tremendous harm to the country’s international image, and to the economy.
Tourism has established itself as one of the most important industries in Kenya contributing enormously to the economy and providing livelihoods and employment to hundreds of thousands of Kenyans. So we are very concerned that having recently recovered from an 8-year slump occasioned by precisely this kind of activity, we are once again faced with the ugly prospect of politically connected clashes. While we fully respect the right of all Kenyans to express their sentiments and grievances, such expression should however be done in a responsible and peaceful manner that in itself also respects the sanctity of human life and private property.
Kenyans came out in their millions to vote in an orderly and peaceful manner which was hailed as setting a wonderful example of democracy in action. However the riots and violence which followed the disputed results and the claims of irregularities and mismanagement are a terrible set-back for this country. The scenes we are witnessing of rioting mobs and unchecked looting of business premises have no place in a civilised society where the proper rule of law should prevail. We appeal to our fellow citizens to shun violence, hooliganism and thuggery.
During the campaign period, all the political parties were at pains to
assure Kenyans of their commitment to enhance economic growth. The current
spate of activity will achieve precisely the opposite of this since tourism
is an important sector of the economy and a labour intensive employer. The tourism industry is calling upon the country’s political leadership on all sides to put their words into action, to obey the law and to help to bring peace and calm back to the country.
Tourism, despite being Kenya’s highest employer directly and indirectly and
the number one foreign exchange earner, is also very sensitive to insecurity and civil unrest and can collapse overnight, bringing economic problems to Kenya and its people. As demonstrated in the past, it could take years to undo damage caused in a very small space of time. Elections come and go every five years but Kenya will remain beyond all of us and we therefore urge the political
establishment to respect the rule of law by addressing the election disputes
in a manner that does not reverse the important gains made to the economy.
In the meantime, we wish to reassure all intending visitors to Kenya that:
1. The international airports in Nairobi and Mombasa are open and operating as normal with daily international flights from all over the world.
2. The main highways and roads between the airports and hotels in Nairobi and Mombasa are open to traffic and tourist vehicles are driving as normal along these routes. There is a strong police presence on these main highways to ensure the safety of visitors and Kenyans alike.
3. The main highways out of Nairobi are open for traffic to the main game parks of Tsavo, Amboseli, Nakuru, Laikipia, Samburu and others. Road and air safaris continue as normal.
4. Most of the areas where violent incidents have occurred are well away from the main tourist routes and are not normally visited as part of a tourist itinerary.
5. We have many thousands of tourists in Kenya right now who are continuing with their safaris and beach holidays without a problem.
The private sector tourism business stakeholders now call upon all concerned (especially the Government and the opposition leaders) to show us true statesmanship to urgently ensure an immediate and complete end to violence and hostilities so that calm can be restored.
Kenya Tourism Federation
Kenya Association of Tour Operators
Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers
Kenya Association of Travel Agents
Kenya Association of Air Operators
Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association
Kenya Budget Hotels Association