Serena boss faults Kenya strategy

March 6, 2009
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NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The lack of a proper strategy for Kenya’s tourism industry has been cited as the biggest impediment to its progress.

TPS Serena Managing Director Jan Mohammed said on Friday that though the country had good plans on paper, implementation remained a challenge.

“We like arranging for seminars, workshops and coming up with very good papers but the hitch is during execution, where we keep shooting in the dark,” Mr Mohammed told Capital Business.

The former Chairman of The Kenya Tourism Federation declared 2008 as one of the worst years for the tourism industry in the country.

“In 2008, unlike in previous years, all segments of the industry were affected. Be it bush, beach, corporate, everything suffered a blow from the negative publicity generated from the post election violence,” he stated.

Mr Mohammed observed that it’s when incidents like the post election violence take place that the vulnerability of the country as a tourism destination is exposed.

He noted that the lack of a Tourism Plan and Reserve Fund for the industry coupled with general lack of coordination in the private and public sectors makes the situation worse.

“Now, the global crunch is with us and our businesses are suffering the negative effects despite some quarters arguing that Africa would not feel them. It’s only that while the negative impact in those countries may range 60 percent, here its 40 percent so we are feeling it too,” he said.

Mr Mohammed also faulted Kenya’s reactive as opposed to a proactive approach to issues which, he says, has resulted to greater losses.

“Look at a destination like Egypt (which) in 24 hours had made a decision to waive Visas, yet 14 months later Kenya is yet to do anything in terms of providing incentives for its visitors,” he said.

At the same time, Mr Mohammed revealed that a charter flight service had pulled out of the Mombasa route due to lack of incentives.

“Mombasa is becoming a dependant on charter services which is unfortunate because they can be very unfaithful (as) they are always diverted to better incentive routes,” he noted.

Mr Mohammed is proposing concerted efforts by all players in the industry to review their operating standards.

“This country has so much to offer compared to other competing destinations, all we have to realize is that tourism is cyclic and therefore take advantage of our highs and be well prepared for the lows,” he said.

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