RENEWED CRITICISM TOWARDS TOURISM MINISTRY HEAPS MORE BLAME ON MWAZO
Senior stakeholders in Kenya’s tourism sector are increasingly outspoken now about the performance of the Ministry of Tourism in recent months, but are still stopping short of publicly repeating what is being whispered behind closed doors, that they hold the minister personally responsible for the sorry state of affairs the industry is faced with. ‘Even a useless minister like this one still got powers and can make life miserable until his is finally out of office. But we know why he is there and who brought him. Honourable Balala was a blessing to the industry and his removal by his party a crime against our sector. Mwazo failed to accomplish getting KTB a bigger budget share, then almost messed up KTB. His public utterances are often completely wrong in fact and he embarrasses the sector by such displays of incompetence. We cannot wait for him to go and some better person take over from him’ said a regular source from Nairobi when discussing emerging reports, that the Chairman of KATO had gone on public record expressing concerns and dissatisfaction with the ministry’s performance. Equally in the firing line is the ministry overseeing wildlife in the country, which is being blamed for failing to amend the wildlife act to cater for heavy fines and long prison terms for poaching, which has seen a sharp increase in the recent past. ‘Lack of tightening that law is inexcusable. MP’s were busy awarding themselves huge benefits and wasted time discussing drinking before the elections but failed to introduce amendment to the wildlife act to help KWS against poaching. It shows that the ministry failed to make an impression on the urgency of this menace and that our MP’s got their priorities all wrong. Now it may take another year or longer even during which poachers get bail, get out, poach again and if found guilty get small fines or short prison terms’ did the source then add when expanding the discussion to the various elements impacting on the tourism industry’s performance last year. Another source said last night on the phone: ‘You don’t expect us to go head to head in public with him [Tourism minister Danson Mwazo] after what he tried to do to Ndegwa [CEO of KTB whom Mwazo unsuccessfully tried to purge from
office]. There are ways and means and I think he knows that his performance is lacking. He hardly faces us to interact. That way he thinks he is insulated from critique. Far from it, there are ways and means and we use those. If he really stands for Senator as he said he would he will anyway be out of government and that gives rise to hope for a more competent minister when a new government comes into power’.
The underlying factors of concern however remain, being a limited budget to embark on a much needed marketing blitz in core, emerging and new markets ahead of the elections in March to assure potential customers that it is safe to travel to Kenya, besides countering a negative campaign by some competing destinations attempting to lure tourists to their shores by suggesting Kenya was heading for trouble. And here the failures of the past may well come home to roost, when a lack of funds will make it impossible to blanket Kenya’s markets overseas with commercials, goodwill missions and more to set the sector on a growth path again, inspite of the admittedly difficult weeks ahead. Best of luck to my Kenyan friends and for sure you deserve a minister who is on your side and not a brake shoe or obstacle to the industry. Watch this space.