Tourism and Wildlife get thumbs down on The Star’s performance ratings


(Posted 06th April 2014)

The publication of a cabinet score card by the Star, one of Kenya’s tabloids, has brought about a swift reaction when the three cabinet secretaries overseeing tourism, wildlife and security scored badly.

While both Cabinet Secretary Kandie, responsible for tourism and Cabinet Secretary Prof. Wakhungu on the face of it were given a D, which stood for ‘Get Your Act Together’, the Cabinet Secretary in charge of security Ole Lenku got an outright F, which stands for ‘Failure’.

Regular outspoken critics of all things pertaining the administration of the tourism sector were swift to claim that CS Kandie should have been given an E – which basically tells the office holder to resign, and the same sentiments were voiced about Prof. Wakhungu for her failure to appoint a Board of Directors for the Kenya Wildlife Service and to reign in poaching. ‘Both are notorious for making pretty speeches but the net result is that both failed their sectors. Kandie has failed to inspire and is now already seen as a failure and demands are made to take the tourism portfolio away from her. She just lacks what it takes under such volatile circumstances to keep the tourism sector together. She is also suspected to be seen as too weak in cabinet to fight for her sector when East African Affairs and Commerce are perhaps more on her mind and on her brief than tourism. She is patently not able to prevent KTB from being merged away with some other body and that will be the end of tourism promotion as we know it. Now Prof. Judi, that is a clear case of an expert in environment being handed wildlife of which she knows far too little. Her biggest failure is the continued absence of a board of directors at KWS. That organization is struggling with the poaching crisis and they lack the guidance of a competent board. Those two elements are crucial for our tourism industry and it is time these failures are acknowledged by the powers that be. We want our own ministry back, where tourism, wildlife and natural resources come under one roof. Better even, bring Balala back into that ministry if you want to see results for the better’ did two sources say almost in identical words yesterday when discussing the matter.

Sentiments were even harsher when it came to the CS in charge of security, who got both scorn and fun poked at him for his lapses during the Westgate attack last year and a series of incidents since in Nairobi, in Mombasa and in other towns especially along the border with Somalia.

But then, it is unlikely that the powers that be, i.e. the President and Vice President, will react to such sentiments any time soon as their focus has been elsewhere. ‘They are seen as too self absorbed and with a tunnel vision which does not let them see the big picture. The tax increases on tourism, the failure to combat poaching, the failure to bring an end to terrorism, all those are issues which affect tourism a great deal and from the President, whose family owns hotels in Mombasa, we had expected better. He once was chairman of KTB but it seems that assignment left him with no institutional memory to understand what the sector needs. It is a crying shame how the one sector of the economy which has carried the country for so long, is being systematically dismembered. I believe longer term we will come back of course but for now, we simply have no leadership able to rally the troops and bring light into that long dark tunnel’ added another regular contributor.

The saying goes that there is always hope, but that is for now all the Kenyan tourism industry has left, hope for better days ahead, hope that the powers that be see sense in what the industry tells them and hope that change is on the way, and fast. Watch this space.

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