Tourism industry reacts sharply to threats of KTB budget cuts


(Posted 30th June 2017)

The perceived threats against the Kenya Tourism Board and the industry as a whole to cut the tourism budget should visitor numbers not rise rapidly, has been met with in part incredulity, in past perplexion and in part outright anger, given the circumstances of Kenya’s tourism industry over the past few years.
Said a top private sector source on condition of not being named: ‘Was the 2008 post election violence our doing? Was the invasion of Somalia our doing? Was the fallout of terror by Al Shabab our doing? Was Ebola and the economic crisis in Europe our doing? Is the lack of decent infrastructure in particular at the coast our doing? Is poaching of our doing? Are the Laikipia conservancy invasions our doing? My advice to politicians is to pull their head out of the sand and see the reality we have been living with. At the coast we are constantly subjected to more and more tax and fee demands by county governments, yet service delivery in regard of water provisions, sewerage links to resorts and rubbish collection are lacking. In Laikipia tourism business has been seriously affected, several very upmarket lodges and camps have been burned down and here we are having to listen to this? Read Maria Dodd’s daily updates on what is going on there and help solve those problems before taking your frustration out on us!
It is politicians who set unrealistic targets without thinking what it takes to get there. I would have expected better from our Minister than ignoring facts and reality and threatening to cut budgets. This, Mr. Minister, is an election year again and you would do better to help stop campaign malpractices which put Kenya in a bad light abroad and make people decide to go somewhere else for their beach holiday for fear of potential election and post elections problems‘ with a significant number of other contributors sending in similar messages.
Cabinet Secretary Balala was speaking at a conference organized by the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, in short KAHC, when he reportedly made the remarks, suggesting that the money spent on marketing Kenya had not produced expected results and that it would be either to meet targets or else suffer budget cuts.
Another Nairobi based source then made pointed reference to the Seychelles, which has been enjoying an uninterrupted visitor boom – despite much higher prices for holidays but also because of much higher ranked resorts – while Kenya has been struggling: ‘Let him explain how Seychelles succeeds where we apparently failed in his eyes. Better infrastructure, better resorts and a climate of close cooperation between government and private sector there without threats of this kind. Yesterday’s comments are like washing our dirty laundry in public instead of discussing causes and remedies behind closed doors. Very disappointing that was‘.

A close look indeed has one questioning the outburst as the incentives launched for air operators to come back to the Kenya coast have largely failed to see a return to pre-2012 heydays, a package of measures instituted by the ministry and yet not producing the numbers the government had suggested it would. Fodder for thought no doubt and all the best to my Kenyan friends in the tourism industry as they get nearer to the hot part of campaigns ahead of the August elections.