‘Bad tourism law’ prevents board appointments for Kenya’s tourism parastatals


(Posted 11th September 2013)

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of tourism, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie, yesterday responded to mounting pressure over lack of board appointments for the tourism parastatals bodies formed under the most recent version of the Tourism Act, when she stated that the law had to be taken back to the national assembly for amendments as some sections were making their implementation well near impossible.

We took the Act for review. It has been difficult to implement it as it is. It’s critical we get it right’ she was quoted as having said when asked the question following the launch of the final countdown for the International Eco- and Sustainable Tourism Conference later this month in Nairobi.

Tourism stakeholders are clearly divided over this issue, with some in their feedback demanding that boards are appointed and appointees subjected to the current requirement of getting approval from the national assembly, while others in fact asked for the entire law to be re-written.

This might give the chance to review the tourism law in its entirety. Not just about those difficult sections about board member approvals which in many other sectors is not required. I personally find the entire law bad because it has created a number of bodies all of which need offices, staff, boards and so on. Yet, in many other African countries such functions are bundled under one roof. Look at Rwanda. They got RDB and tourism promotion and wildlife conservation is handled by one major department of RDB. Zimbabwe is another case, they have a tourism authority. Tanzania is toying with forming exactly that, a tourism authority which then handles contentious issues inhouse and not need more costly meetings and retreats to find more costly compromises.

We should use this chance to take a fresh look at things. Already the country is near breaking our back with taxes to pay for all those constitutional changes and new institutions when at the time not one side submitted a detailed cost for us all. Let us not have 6 or 7 or more tourism bodies but one active well facilitated authority with some semi autonomy where the private sector plays a key role and which then shapes our tourism future along our own agreed principles’ wrote a source over several emails last night, when exchanging views on this surely contentious issue. It is perhaps a time when KTF, KATO, KAHC, KATA, EcoTourism Kenya and other key stakeholders can and even should sit down, take stock, look at the cost involved and the effectiveness – and the downside of the potential squabbles and arguments over turf rights – of the current system and then decide to bring a united position to parliament. Watch this space.