, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 5- “Africans cannot afford to be strangers to Africans anymore,” Chief Edem Duke, the Nigerian Tourism and Culture Minister said, after a meeting with Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie in Nairobi on Wednesday.
Kenya and Nigeria say they are now determined to go beyond the terrorism challenge which has faced the two countries and support their tourism sectors which have been adversely affected.
The ministers agreed to come up with a framework that will see increased movement of people between the two African states and grow the tourism sector.
“We will try and promote business tourists and also tourists for leisure. We’ve never really targeted our African brothers and sisters as potential tourists and this is the time,” Kandie said.
A joint committee has been formed which includes professionals from both countries which will among other things check on tax incentives that will encourage more Nigerians to visit Kenya and vice versa.
Kenya targets to grow the number of Nigerian tourists to Kenya from the current 40,000 a year to an average of 500,000 annually as it seeks to diversify the sector.
The two countries are currently facing terror challenge but according to Duke, this should never be a reason to sit and watch the sector die especially after continued travel advisories being issued by most of the Western countries.
“What we need to do is support the governments on the continent of Africa and not try to humiliate our leaders by making it look like they are to blame,” Duke challenged.
He urged the African media to also work with their governments by reporting more positive things from the continent despite the negative incidences, adding that maintaining the integrity of the continent was key.
“These incidences have occurred in the United Kingdom which has already put a travel advisory against tourist coming to Kenya. It has also happened in the United States and others. In fact, there are things that happen in some of the big capitals of the World which are strange even to us Africans; like a kid being dropped off in school by their parents and shooting the entire class. But for some reason we don’t identify them as acts of terrorism yet they are strange stories.”
To kick off their plans, Kandie will be leading a Kenyan delegation of 10 people to Abuja Nigeria for a two day tour using the Kenya Airways (KQ) maiden flight to the city on Thursday.
“My dear colleague will also accompany us in the trip and it is one of the reason he is here with his delegation. We are also planning to partner with Kenya Airways in these framework and see how we will facilitate easy movement,” Kandie said.
The CS however maintains that the move to encourage intra- Africa tourism does not mean we will neglect out traditional markets especially Europe and USA. “All we want is to diversify.”