Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism speaks on Westgate

Press Release : Tourism Industry unshaken after Westgate mall terror attack

Tourism industry unshaken after Westgate Mall terror attack, affirms Kandie

Nairobi 26th September 2013: Kenya’s tourismindustry remains stable despite the recent terror attack at Nairobi’s upmarket Westgate Mall, Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Ms. Phyllis Kandie has affirmed.

The Cabinet Secretary said this today in a speech read on her behalf by the Principal Secretary for the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Dr. Ibrahim Mohammed at the opening of the Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2013 organized by The International Ecotourism Society (TIES), Kenya Tourism Board and African Wildlife Foundation.

This fact was evident as the conference surpassed its registration target of 300 participants from 46 countries by nearly 14 percent- which according to the organizers is an expression of the world’s confidence in Kenya as safe destination for both business and leisure travel.

‘’Terrorism is a global phenomenon and this recent incident is not unique to Kenya. Militants cannot and should not dictate our way of life, and tourism is a resilient industry, always resistant to external threats in the medium and long term’’, she noted

Ms. Kandie reiterated the government’s commitment to ensuring continued stringent security measures in all parts of the country.

To enhance the role of tourism as a key driver of socio-economic development, Kandie said, there is need to encourage local ownership and management of tourism resources and small and medium enterprises, as well as enhance linkages to the economy and create more private and public partnerships.

‘’Ecotourism is the only way to ensure our ecosystem heritage is passed on to other generations for posterity, and there is need to reinvent the management of tourism resources. Tourism must give back to communities and we must ensure the returns are not sporadic but must serve generations to come’’, Kandie added.

Ecotourism is a concept that seeks to integrate environmental conservation, community development, and sustainable travel. This means that those who implement and participate in ecotourism activities should ensure they minimize environmental impact of their activities, build environmental and cultural awareness, respect and provide positive experiences for both visitors and hosts. They also should provide direct financial benefits for conservation, share benefits and empowerment with the local people and raise sensitivity to host countries’ political, environmental, and social climate.

According to industry experts, Kenya is the third best ecotourism destination globally, with over 100 private and community conservancies which provide habitat for 70 per cent of the country’s wildlife population. Ecotourism as an emerging global trend is expected to ensure sustainability of traditional tourism and enhance participation of local communities in conservation efforts and ultimately improve their livelihoods through creation of economic opportunities and sharing of benefits by tourism enterprises.

Although Kenya continues to battle with human-wildlife conflict and poaching, Kandie reassured that government is deploying all necessary resources and energies to provide innovative, lasting and sustainable solutions.

‘’The creation of community-owned wildlife and forest reserves has accelerated ecotourism development in Africa by improving people’s socio-economic and environmental conditions’’ Kandie concluded.

The Ecotourism and Sustainable Tourism Conference 2013 is a major milestone for Kenya and the tourism industry who won the much coveted and competitive tender to host this international forum that highlights best practices in ecotourism and industry case studies that address social, economic and environmental sustainability.

The conference was first held in Kenya in 1997 and comes back after 16 years since inception, bringing together an over 300 participants ranging from tour and lodge operators, ecotourism experts, academics, travellers, students, media, industry leaders, and award winning destination marketing organisations, researchers, community stakeholders, NGOs and governments.

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