Bad reporting by local papers damages tourism prospects


(Posted 02nd April 2014)

Kenya’s Daily Nation was described as ‘being at it again, tearing Kenya’s tourism down with stupid articles’ by a regular Mombasa based sourced, with several other regular contributors too voicing their disgust and disappointment with the newspaper and in particular the author of the highly contentious article, as well as the editors and bosses of the company.

There is no credible evidence that terrorists targeted the ferry or the airport or in fact any other location. Yes, vehicles were impounded with explosives, and all credit to the police and counter terrorism operatives who secured those cars, but what that so called journalist writes is just speculation. The problem is, this is being picked up by international media which then also peddle it as fact. Such reports are highly damaging to the coast tourism industry and our occupancies, already down from last year, are sure to take another knock after this piece of ****’ ranted another source.

The just ended Sarit Centre domestic tourism exhibition in Nairobi had generated substantial additional interest in coast vacations for the upcoming Easter holiday but such reports are likely to put a damper on such interest and see the locals and expatriates perhaps rather go and visit lodges in national parks which may be considered safer than traveling to Mombasa under such stark scenarios as the Daily Nation painted the situation.

A very senior tourism figure described the industry as ‘on its knees’ in a Facebook post though affirming that Kenya’s tourism sector had faced challenges in the past and rose again to perform even better. That rise however, in view of many other misgivings voiced to this correspondent in recent weeks and months over the direction of the Kenyan government’s official policy direction and real support, or the lack of it, vis a vis verbal commitments, may be some lengthy time away, unless and until key demands made by the tourism industry are met by government.

The Daily Nation last year stooped to new lows when following the Westgate attack the newspaper published very graphic and gruesome images of victims, prompting a prolonged social media campaign which in the end led to a formal apology by the CEO of the company, but there seems little change in direction considering the latest damaging report, where speculation is rife and peddled as fact, as readers can ascertain themselves by clicking on the following link:

Our own media are often our worst enemies when it comes to tourism and I bet that fellow or whoever wrote that piece has given the fallout no thought, just trying for cheap publicity and in the process damaging our reputation. But I blame editors and bosses of the paper also because they ought to keep an eye on such things and not become Al Shabab’s fifth column under the disguise of a media organization’. Hard hitting words and sentiments, but in this case entirely justified. Time will tell exactly what damage that article will inflict on coast tourism.

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