Kandie boosts the importance of Kenya’s tourism trade associations


(Posted 29th June 2013)

While addressing the general meeting of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, which took place earlier in the week at the Whitesands Resort and Spa in Bamburi / Mombasa, did the Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie, give the sector associations a boost, when she stated that licenses will in the future only be granted to companies which are a member of a relevant tourism trade association. She was further quoted that government will only engage in dialogue with associations representing the various sub sectors of the tourism trade, suggesting that talks on crucial matters will include the Kenya Tourism Federation, Kenya’s tourism private sector apex body and the member associations like KAHC, Budget Hotels, PERAK, KATO, KATA, EcoTourism, KAAO and MCTA.

Tourism trade associations have for long advocated to make membership a mandatory requirement in order to be licensed by government, and it appears that calls to root out rogue and briefcase operators have finally gotten attention. Cabinet Secretary Kandie was, according to a source from Mombasa, quoted to have said about unlicensed and rogue elements: ‘We shall deal with these firmly because their time is up. We need to clean up the industry and we are resolute on this’. She went on to assure the stakeholders present that: ‘We shall also hasten the creation of a Communication Crisis Committee and centre to coordinate and manage industry related crisis that would otherwise negatively impact the industry’. This would arguably either work hand in hand or supplement the KTF crisis management set up, which has in the past proved hugely beneficial to have key institutions come on board in times of a crisis, like the Kenya Police, other security organs as well as KWS and KTB.

Tourism stakeholders reportedly used the opportunity of interaction to make it clear that the reduction of the budget estimates for the tourism industry was unacceptable for the sector and could lead to significant job losses in the hospitality sector, prompting the Cabinet Secretary to assure them that discussions were underway to leave the proposed budget intact, which would permit the Kenya Tourism Board to roll out an aggressive recovery marketing campaign, as endorsed by the industry.

Tourism featured high in the inaugural addresses of President Kenyatta and Deputy President Ruto and is generally thought to be a cornerstone and foundation from which to accomplish the double digit economic growth the new government has promised Kenyans during their present term of office. ‘If those budget cuts are not reversed tourism will not be able to play that leading role the president expects the sector to take in boosting our economy. Instead, the sector might suffer a reversal and the nascent recovery we now see may turn to the opposite. Our competition is not sleeping. They used the past months to position themselves at our expense. We need to tell the world why they should come to enjoy Kenya’s beaches and not those elsewhere. We need to tell the world why tourists should come to visit our game parks and not those of others. If the money is not there for KTB to go out and hit the market hard, the dream of 3 million visitor arrivals will remain just that, a dream’ added the same source during some interaction on the event’s progress. Watch this space.