Team Kenya, presently assembling in full strength in Berlin to attend the annual International Tourism Bourse – and their confidence clearly boosted by Lupita’s Oscar win as Best Supporting Actress – has reportedly taken comfort in the fact that President Kenyatta has at long last taken a direct interest in the sector after convening talks last weekend and hearing for himself the views of the country’s private sector why tourism has gone into decline.
Often referred to here, and key recommendations from senior stakeholders reflected on what they think is needed to turn the sector around, not much has happened and discontent grew in recent months when it was evident that the ministry, in which tourism is submerged, simply could not deliver on a range of assurances given to the tourism industry while all along in particular the coastal resorts saw their occupancies go from bad to worse.
The recently formed Tourism Advisory Board, reported here at the time, now had the opportunity to give the president a blow-by-blow account of the problems and difficulties they are faced with and as a result, or so it appears from information received from a stakeholder now in Berlin, the ministry was given a two-week ultimatum to come up with a comprehensive action plan which allows to address the concerns of the private sector and help to boost arrival numbers once again.
Said the source: “I hope those representatives of ours have also made it clear that merging KTB is not an option. If at all there should be a merger of ALL tourism parastatals under one roof to create a new tourism authority and save money in administration which can be ploughed back into marketing. It is also time to return to the traditional format of how the sector is politically managed with an own ministry for tourism, combining it with wildlife and perhaps environment and natural resources. Falling under East African Affairs and Commerce sounds like a recipe to failure, as I remember was the case in Uganda also until Trade and Industry was split off again and tourism given an own cabinet minister. But we will wait and give the process a chance to formulate solutions and then watch with hawk eyes how those are funded and implemented.”
Meanwhile though, the Kenyan delegation is reportedly ready to do battle in the global market place to reclaim their past standing as East Africa’s most important tourism destination and highlight the quality of the product on the safari circuit and the variety of options at the Kenya Coast.