Govt faulted for failing to reassure tourists

May 15, 2014
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Pollmans Tours Managing Director Khalid Shapi (R) and Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Lucy Karume/FILE
Pollmans Tours Managing Director Khalid Shapi (R) and Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Lucy Karume/FILE
NAIROBI, Kenya, May 15 – The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) is demanding that the Government gives tourism the importance it deserves in light of travel advisories from four Western countries considered as source markets.

In a statement, the federation said that tea prices have already decreased significantly in the international market and tourism which is the 2nd highest foreign exchange earner for the country was facing a major crisis in the wake of terror attacks and the travel warnings.

“Jobs have been lost and more job losses are on the way. Why isn’t the Government taking this as a serious matter? When a Miraa ban was announced last year, the President of the Republic of Kenya himself gave a statement on this. The silence from his office on the state of tourism is of increasing concern to us,” said the federation.

It pointed out that the tourism sector is not only a source of much needed foreign exchange and tax revenues but also a large employer and a consumer of products and services from other sectors of the economy.

“Its’ trickle-down effect cannot be ignored. A downturn in tourism will soon be felt in other productive sectors of the economy including agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing, motor vehicle and many more,” the statement went on to state.

“Counties that rely on tourism for revenues should also take notice that they will not be able to meet their budgets and should factor in at least a 30 percent reduction in their projected revenues and much more in some counties,” it stated.

It further expressed disappointment on the travel advisories discouraging all but essential travel to certain areas in the country including some parts of the Kenyan Coast.

“The UK has been a partner of Kenya for many years and is one of our key source markets for tourists. This advisory is a clear indication that the impact of this on investments and employment was not considered as a key partner of Kenya. We urge the British Government to reverse this statement.”

The Federation further stated its disappointment in the lacklustre reaction by government officials who it says should be handling this and reassuring citizens, investors and tourist source markets.

The government on Friday scoffed at the travel advisories issued by four Western countries, describing the warnings as ‘unfriendly acts coming from partners who have borne the brunt of global terrorism.’

In a statement, Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho pointed out that the advisories by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and France only serve to spread fear and panic in the country.

He indicated that the countries which issued the latest travel bans should understand repercussions of terror.

He has reiterated the government’s commitment to fighting terrorism and urged Kenyans to work closely with security agencies at all times.

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) warning cited Nairobi’s high density settlements, including Kibera, Mathare, Huruma, Mukuru kwa Njenga, Mukuru kwa Reuben, Korogocho, Kariobangi, Kangemi, Mwiki and Kawangware, for high crime levels.

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