KENYAS TOURISM STAKEHOLDERS BLAME NEW MINISTER, PUBLIC EXPENDITURE FOR BUDGET CUTS
It is action which counts for us, not words and empty declarations. Maybe now people realize just how much damage the removal of our former minister has done to our sector. Balala was on course to fight for more marketing budget because he knew what 2008 did to the country. This is an upcoming election year and unless we go out to promote, everywhere and all the time, an already flat projection could turn into less, not more. The new minister needs to learn fast to fight for the sector how his predecessor did successfully for years and not blame the media and others like he did last week. Let him put the money where his mouth is, did he not talk about getting more billions and not lessan upset stakeholder from Nairobi wrote in an overnight mail to this correspondent after it had become public knowledge that the planned budget allocation for tourism marketing had been reduced, made worse in fact by inflationary trends since last year.
Other stakeholders blamed the reduction of funding on an ever more swollen public expenditure budget, which has its roots in the new constitution. New administrative and organizational structures are to be created after the next elections and the cost of it has seemingly burst all dams of spending, leaving the Kenyan taxpayers scratching their heads why in fact they did vote so overwhelmingly for the new constitution, only to find out now what the financial implications are. If any sector can come to the rescue of the treasury to fund all those new jobs and positions, it is tourism. But to achieve that we need more money, not less. The reduction does not look much but considering what inflation we had since last year, in real terms it is a 20 percent cut. It is the wrong move by our government because in an election year we need to increase our promotions, tell the world that Kenya is safe to visit and that we have new mechanisms now for elections to prevent fraud and stealing of results. If the allocation of fund for tourism marketing is not reviewed and revised upwards, we are in for a tough year on all fronts another stakeholder from Mombasa added, leaving no doubt that the tourism sector is getting ready to throw its combined weight behind demands for better facilitation in the 2012/13 financial year.
Former tourism minister Najib Balala had advocated to allocate at least 5 percent of tourism earnings to the purpose of promoting the country abroad, in existing core markets but also the new and emerging markets of the East, which would give tourism, considering the earnings last year stood at over 98 billion Kenya Shillings, almost 5 billion Kenya Shillings in funding, and could at last put the country at par with such continental tourism giants like Egypt or South Africa, the latter now enjoys almost 10 times as many tourist visitors compared to Kenya, inspite of the catch up the rainbow nation had to undergo since the end of the apartheid era.
Fodder for thought for the powers that be in Kenya and time for tourism to stand up, stand together and make their combined voices heard. Watch this space.