KTF SPEAKS OUT ON ATTEMPT TO ROB KENYA’S TOURISM SECTOR THROUGH BUDGET CUTS
(Posted 19th June 2013)
The Chairperson of the Kenya Tourism Federation, Mrs. Lucy Karume, too wasted no time to go on record and condemn the attempts by the parliamentary budget and appropriations committee to rob the tourism sector blind by diverting half the allotted budget to other, non tourism related purposes.
The Chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association, seasoned hotelier Mohammed Hersi, too let fly on his Twitter time line earlier today, all but calling the MP’s responsible imbeciles, a word however used by other stakeholders on open TL or in email exchanges seen.
KTF’s CEO Agatha Juma has just sent out a strongly worded statement by the KTF Chair, which is taking the battle right back to parliament, and promises to leave no stone unturned until this lunacy has been halted.
The tourism sector is appalled by reports indicating that Kshs.2 billion has been slashed from
the tourism budget to be used to pay teachers allowances and in effect to forestall a strike.
This is a dangerous move and will have severe adverse effects on the economy in the short,
medium and long term. The tourism sector is struggling to recover from the down turn it
experienced from mid last year till now; this was caused by overseas operators shying away
from marketing Kenya as a preferred tourism destination because of the general elections
which were held on March 4th.
While there has been optimism in the sector, there have been repeated calls for
Government to engage in a serious Tourism Market Recovery Program even as private
stakeholders invest more resources in marketing their businesses and the country. The fact
that the Jubilee Government promised to give greater focus to tourism sustainability and
growth, has given investors’ confidence to plough deeper in their pockets to sustain wage
bills even in the face of reduced business that is not supporting costs of doing business.
Should the budget cuts take place, the government should be prepared for massive job
losses from the tourism sector as investors cannot forever hold out waiting for business to
improve as we will be expecting not an increase (as anticipated) but a decrease in
marketing activity. With our competitors giving more focus on marketing their destinations
which are not as endowed as ours and already receiving in some instances more than 5 – 10
folds our international tourist arrivals, less visibility for Kenya in the international market is
guaranteed to result in even lower tourist arrivals.
The effect will not only be felt by investors and employees in the sector but all other sectors
in the economy will feel this move hurting their pockets especially the manufacturing and
agriculture sector. The hospitality sector is a large consumer of locally manufactured
consumer goods and agricultural produce.
We fail to understand why economic development is being sacrificed with no regard to the
consequences it will have. Let government find money from other sources and let tourism
play its role in sustaining and growing the economy
Mrs. Karume’s statement has according to information received from a credible source in Nairobi been sent to the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, the Office of the President and the Office of the Deputy President, but also to the coalition party offices, member of the national assembly and the senate and in particular to the members of the budget and appropriations committee, to warn in particular the latter of their liability for the disastrous consequences for the tourism sector, should the proposed siphoning of funds be formally sanctioned. Here in Rwanda, tourism officials expressed, on condition of strict anonymity, their complete shock that Kenya’s parliament would act in such total isolation from reality and wished their colleagues at KTB and the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism well to seal their budget against any encroachment, for whatever purposes.
This is an emerging story and more will no doubt we heard about it in coming days and week, so watch this space for more twists in the tail.