Tourism gurus expect swift recovery after peaceful elections in Kenya
(eTN) - While the who’s who of Kenya’s tourism industry is wrapping up their participation in the world’s greatest tourism fair, ITB Berlin, a number of them have expressed their confidence that
(eTN) – While the who’s who of Kenya’s tourism industry is wrapping up their participation in the world’s greatest tourism fair, ITB Berlin, a number of them have expressed their confidence that the depressed room occupancies, as a result of the elections being held back home, will now swiftly recover that the outcome has been announced and peace prevailed across the country.
While one of the losers, unlike 6 others who peacefully conceded defeat, is now set to go to court, this is not thought to have any further influence on the mainstream tourism operators abroad, who have been monitoring events keenly and are now ready to resume their “regular supply” of tourists being sent to the Kenyan safari parks and the sunny beaches of Mombasa, Watamu, Malindi, and Diani.
“It was an unfortunate timing for us that our elections fell into the ITB period, but we were able to answer all questions thrown at us. We were able to show that peace prevailed, we had streaming content from NTV and Citizen TV on our lap tops to show how things went back home, and I think we convinced our partners that there is nothing to worry about. The fact [that] one of the contestants is going to court will not make a difference, because the main issue was peaceful conduct of [the] elections and during the counting of votes.
“I think our institutions are stronger than ever before, security is kept up, and tourists are welcome to take advantage of some fantastic offers our key stakeholders have put together between now and Easter and for the low season. We are very confident that this will be a good year for us after all. We have major conferences heading to Kenya, and when a new government is in place you will see that tourism is getting a bigger share of resources. After all, our new President Elect was once the Chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board and has firsthand experience of what it takes to make the sector a success. He knows what tourism can accomplish for Kenya’s economy in regard of jobs and foreign investment and foreign exchange earnings. Unlike all past presidents, President Elect Kenyatta knows about tourism and his mother owns resorts at the coast. We are confident that tourism will be playing not just a bigger role but also finally make the quantum leap into the new century we have been waiting for,” said a regular contributor in a mail exchange late yesterday after reading the article filed about the election outcome.
Others commented that now was the time to get back to work after a successful participation in ITB where East Africa showcased the 5 member countries within one East African area, giving an overview of the attractions the region holds for visitors from abroad.
The declaration of the final results in the presidential elections in Kenya occurred shortly after 1440 hours on Saturday, March 9, 2013, 5 days after the landmark elections on Monday. The trend visible since the early provisional results were announced during Monday night and early Tuesday morning and the lead taken by Uhuru Kenyatta over his closest rival Raila Odinga progressively opened up to around 600,000 before at one time leaping to the near one million mark before reducing again, leaving the outcome a nail biter hard to even be scripted by Hollywood writers. The digital vote count, after reaching a combined 4+ million, collapsed due to various factors including server overload, and the vote count had to be restarted manually, relying on the key documents signed by the returning officers in each and every of the 291 constituencies, brought to Nairobi by the men and women concerned in a major logistical race against time. It was a race right down to the wire, as only when the very last constituency results was announced, did Uhuru Kenyatta finally cross the magic 50 percent plus one vote margin, by just over 4,100 votes in the end from a confirmed 12,338,667 votes cast.
Now, finally, the race is over, the unsavory scenario of a runoff election out of the way, which could have paralyzed Kenya for another month and dented economic growth as well as given rise to anxiety and fear of what the camp on the losing end of the race might do to reverse their flagging fortunes, had Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, failed to secure an outright first-round victory. Kenya has a new president elect, named Uhuru Kenyatta, and the region will be collectively breathing out with relief, the nail biter finally over and everyone being able to settle back and down to business as usual.
Dubbed “The Battle of the Sons” by this correspondent in various pre-election commentaries, the outcome, like in the early days of independence, is a repetition of Kenyatta senior taking center stage after independence, and Odinga senior ending up as eternal second.
For one of the main protagonists, there will be no opportunity now to “revenge” and do all the things the father failed to accomplish, and for the other there will be plenty of opportunity to show he holds no grudges and is president of all Kenyans – a president who brings those parts of the country which voted for his opponent into the fold and be their president, too, Western Kenya and the coastal areas among others; a president who reaches out to the entire nation and helps build a prosperous future for all with equitable resource allocation and attention to the needs of every part of the country, not just areas which voted him into office.
Let’s hope this will be the start of a new Kenya, under a second Kenyatta president, not a time to settle scores but a time to set things right and give the opposition a sense of belonging, a sense of co-owning, and a sense of ownership of the new republic, a republic reborn, the Second Republic of Kenya as the new constitution is now taking full effect after these elections were concluded. It is time that “Tribe Kenya” takes to the forefront for the better of the country while all other “tribes” take a step back and make way to “One Kenya – One Tribe.” Kenya does so for major sporting events, when the country stands united behind their Rugby 7 team, their football team, and their track athletes when they compete in major international events.
There is, of course, the matter of the trial for the winning team at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, already postponed to later this year, where their legal teams are hard at work to have the committal for trial squashed after a key witness, on whom the pre-trial chamber relied heavily in their decision to have Kenyatta, Ruto, and two others confirmed for a full trial, admitted to having lied – under oath, of course – robbing the prosecutors of a cornerstone of their case.
That, however, will be resolved, or not, in coming weeks as the case either continues, or may be dismissed after all, but for certain it would be a novelty to have a sitting head of state and his vice president stand trial over allegations of masterminding the post 2007 election violence which spread across Kenya 5 years ago.
Kenyans have spoken, that scenario clearly written on the wall, in part for being fed up of being told by Western powers of what to do, and in the face of the utterances of several Western diplomats and foreign affairs offices overseas in past weeks which have only served to have Kenyans dig in and show the ICC and the West what many of them think of the ICC case and of the supposedly friendly nations whom many a friend in Nairobi, Kisumu, and Mombasa have been calling “wolves in sheep skins.” The announcement just now has both sorted this all out as well as opened a totally new can of worms, should the trial indeed go ahead but that will be a story for another day.
Congratulations to the Jubilee Alliance, which will be celebrating Kenya’s 50th independence jubilee later this year in power, and congratulations, too, to those candidates who, in a sign of political maturity, have already conceded their defeat at the polls and who perhaps will try in a few years again, if they still have the taste for it.
For now, Kenya’s hotly-contested race to the State House is over, and East Africa can go on with the task of nation and region building, with the economic locomotive, as Kenya is perceived in Eastern Africa, having been refueled and ready to resume what will hopefully turn into a prolonged bull run driven by oil and gas exploration; major infrastructure projects including railways, new highways, refineries, and pipelines; manufacturing; and last but not least, of course, tourism, which remains firmly at the top of the region’s economic activities after tea but before coffee exports. It was my wish and prediction to see peace prevail, and a largely matured Kenyan population has delivered exactly that – peaceful polls, peaceful counts, and is now set for a peaceful transition.