Mwazo’s departure brings new hope to Kenya’s tourism industry


And your best was not good enough, not nearly good enough’ roared a regular source from Nairobi’s tourism circles back via an email to this correspondent, commenting on the final press conference held by hapless tourism minister Dan Mwazo, who never could fill the shoes of his predecessor and leaves under clouds of controversy he created for himself.

Mwazo put a brave face to having to admit that last year’s tourism performance, under his guardianship, failed to live up to his own fullmouthed promises of higher revenues and more arrivals. The outgoing minister was clearly trying to mitigate away the situation in the presence of the Kenya Tourism Board CEO Muriithi Ndegwa, with whom he had repeatedly locked horns in several failed attempts to get rid of him after finding that Ndegwa’s correct figures, projecting a downturn in tourism fortunes, contradicted him within days last year of making his own off the cuff remarks. He was quoted to have in closing said that ‘he stood his ground and wanted to make many changes but the changes did not happen’ leaving many observers bewildered what on earth he was referring to.

He was a disaster appointment and we blame his party chief for that. Sacking Balala was the beginning of his own end but tourism suffered because of it. Balala had a lot lined up which Mwazo failed to appreciate, like bringing the award ceremony for Africa’s best tourism businesses to Nairobi. He thinks we forget but it was him who forced Kenya to abandon that commitment and made us look bad when he said there is no money. His appointments of parastatal chiefs without gazetting the law that was another big mistake. Most of us are happy to see him go now and we hope for maybe even Balala coming back to tourism; that would be a big blessing for the sector. Because now, tourism is combined with wildlife and environment and that will allow that ministry to bring all key issues to the table without having to argue with a cabinet colleague who might not understand tourism at all. The new set up brings a lot of hope that the sector can finally be better appreciated in cabinet and be given greater funding. After all, the president elect once was chairman of KTB and he understands much better than others what potential tourism has. Our sector can be his showcase performer and I think he knows that too’ added the source in an exchange of messages last night. While on line the same source commented on the sector’s expected performance for 2013, claiming that once the election petition, due to be decided this weekend, would be resolved tourism would make a fast and furious recovery, matching at least the performance of 2012 in terms of arrivals and revenues, subject to no re-run being ordered by the court.

Good news for Kenya tourism then it seems, once the politics are out of the way and a new government can be formed, so watch this space for future updates on Kenya’s performance.

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