Kenya’s Tourism Professionals finally unite to help protect their industry


(Posted 25th May 2017)

The need for tourism professionals to come together and to not just advance their sector’s agenda but also to protect and defend it, has gained a new urgency.
In Tanzania it is TANAPA which through unilateral fee hikes threatens the very survival of the safari industry while in Rwanda the equally unilateral hike of gorilla permit fees to a whopping US Dollars 1.500 has also set the private sector on a collision course with wildlife managers and tourism public sector at large.
Public sector organizations, which do not consult with their respective private sector stakeholders and key organizations about decision which impact doing business in such a massive way, are failing in their public duty and must not wonder when they are condemned in the sharpest possible terms on both institutional as well as personal levels.

Already in March last year were details of TPA’s mission and vision revealed here, available for review by simply clicking on the link below:

Now has Mr. Sam Ikwaye, Interim Secretary of Kenya’s Tourism Professional Association outlined the organization’s present status and activities it is involved in to share not just with professionals in Kenya but the wider Eastern Africa region where unity of private sector stakeholders is today more important than ever before:

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There is a new dawn, a revolution of sorts that is taking shape on the tourism scene in Kenya. The idea of having a professional’s organization in the sector was received with lots of mixed reactions. Most investors thought and have always believed they are the professionals because the vacuum that existed gave room for over 50 years for everyone to apply whatever standards they thought fit for their investments. Government put a lot of emphasis on owners rather than growing the professionals in all key decisions and engagements. This worked very well then because earlier, investors had good respect for professionals and had their investments as their core activities. Today, we have a new crop of investors who are looking at quick returns from tourism investments. The definition as adopted by TPA is giving new meaning to a profession: A profession is something a little more than a job, it is a career for someone that wants to be part of society, who becomes competent in their chosen sector through training; maintains their skills through continuing professional development (CPD); and commits to behaving ethically, to protect the interests of the public.

Recent happenings where different circuits are faced with unique challenges have pushed many more players to take more seriously the idea of belonging to some professional body in their own sector. Today’s job adverts including internal promotions demand that you show proof of belonging to a professional body with good standing. Most have filled in unrelated professional qualifications but now TPA is offering this essence of belonging for professionals practicing in Kenya.

Issuance of TPA membership certificates has finally begun. Fully paid up members are subscribing to TPA and are ready to take charge of this profession. This is very exiting that finally, the association is taking a professional shape and form and ready to offer services to its members, indeed, our Journey of a thousand miles is past the initial single step. An executive decision was taken to have ALL members joining the Association to start at Affiliate category so that ALL have a chance to experience professional growth within the Association.

Why do we need TPA … if you want …

  • · an occupation which will help you to build your skills and develop your expertise in a field which interests you;
  • · to keep learning, be challenged and stay up to date with the latest developments in your chosen area;
  • · to solve problems, do good work, and be involved in making decisions which help to improve people’s lives.
  • · to earn more money. Professionalism pays: people with professional body membership will earn more than those without.

Like most professional bodies, and unlike trade associations such as those represented under KTF, TPA is an organization whose members are individual professionals. In some professions it is compulsory to be a member of the professional body, in others, such as TPA it is not. This usually depends on whether or not the profession requires the professional to have a ‘license to practice’, or to be on a professional register, in order to do their job. This is related to how the profession is regulated i.e. who is responsible for making sure that professionals are doing their jobs properly.

The executive Committee led by a veteran hotelier Killian Lugwe and deputized by a scholar Joy Goopio from the Strathmore University led the team to carry out courtesy calls onto different government agencies and private sector players as well as other internationally recognized professional organization in Kenya and the goodwill and support was over whelming. For example the accounting body has always had challenges because hospitality accounting is quite different from conventional principles of accounting. Very few managers and investors especially those employing expatriates are not aware for example of the Uniform System of Accounts for the Lodging Industry (USALI) and the subsequent editions to apply.

We have urged ALL professionals to stand up and be counted. Many things are not right. After the establishment of a new Tourism Act, and setting up of many parastatals, some with duplicating roles, the sector still moves as though on auto pilot and really influenced by politics of the day, in fact, this may be worse in the coming days as county governments begin to take charge of tourism resources within their counties.

The next focus being pursed is the student membership category because we believe the future of the profession can be secured through the mentorship program. TPA is in negotiations with HOSCO, the leading hospitality network for jobs, news & connections ( to benefit the many students aspiring to join TPA as professionals.

TPA is enjoying support across the board and we extend invitation to all professionals in Kenya as well as those in international practice to up at

Sam Ikwaye

Interim Secretary-TPA

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