The Tourism Cabinet Secretary brought together stakeholders in the tourism industry for a round table discussion where issues touching on the industry progress were deliberated.
Speaking during the event that was held at the KICC, Hon. Balala said product development; Capacity Building and Marketing will remain his key priority areas as he works towards revamping the sector.
“We all know that the sector has been performing dismally for the past few years as a result of a myriad of challenges, key among them insecurity. We are currently experiencing some relative peace as a result of government efforts’ said Hon. Balala
The CS said it was impressing that the government had moved in and invested heavily on security. “I am happy to report here that currently, about 15% of the country’s budget goes to matters of security. The government has also equipped various police stations with the necessary infrastructure and intensified both ground and aerial patrols. Security checks at entry points have also been intensified” added the Cabinet Secretary.
The Cabinet Secretary highlighted a number of measures that the government has implemented to assist the industry in recovery. They include among others, the Charter Incentive Program and subsidy which has waived landing fees for charters with 80% of the passengers terminating at Mombasa and Malindi for the next 2years.The program is aimed at recovering lost business from tourist charter aircrafts that used to terminate at Moi International and Malindi airports. Waiving of visa fees for children under the age of 16 years is also meant to encourage family travel to Kenya. The Cabinet Secretary also said the reduction of Park entry fees from $90 to a high of $60 will encourage both local and international tourists visiting the parks.
On Travel advisories, the Cabinet Secretary hailed the recent move by Germany to downgrade its travel advisory to Kenya, and France for lifting its advisory saying this was a good sign that the country was on the right track to recovery.
The Cabinet Secretary highlighted a number of issues affecting the hospitality industry in Kenya and asked investors to ensure these issues are addressed in order for the industry to thrive.
Over pricing of accommodation facilities and air transport the CS noted, were hindering travel and making it difficult for local and international tourists to visit Kenya. Outdated entertainment dances by hotels and poor remuneration for entertainers were also cited as some of the issues that required upgrading. The CS advised hotels that lacked WIFI to ensure they install saying any hotel in the 21st Century that was operating without WIFI was not in competition.
He appealed to hotel owners to move with speed and upgrade their hotels saying the government will have no choice in the near future, than to strip off some hotels off their titles. He said some hotels were masquerading as 5 star hotels yet their services match a three star hotel