MOMBASA, August 27 – President Mwai Kibaki has pledged additional funding for the tourism sector in a bid to strengthen promotion programmes and increase the country\’s market share in the global industry.
The sector currently has a Sh600 million allocation for marketing from the government.
Speaking to tourism stakeholders on the second of his six-day tour of Coast Province, he said the monies would enable Kenya compete effectively with other world destinations.
“We have to invest more in marketing and promotion of tourism. My government is focusing on infrastructure development around the country and we are also in negotiations with our partners for additional support in this regard,” he said.
President Kibaki also announced plans to establish a tourism training centre of excellence in the Coast, to enhance the skills of service providers in the sector.
He added that the Government was investing in the construction of modern market centres for small-scale traders in the province.
The move, he said, would ensure the benefits of the industry trickle down to the local communities.
The Government recently acquired a parcel of land in the Bamburi area for the market.
“The operations of the proposed market centres require your full support. There is no doubt that the success of small-scale traders who will operate from the markets will have a huge impact on the future of the tourism sector,” President Kibaki said.
Between 2003 and 2007, tourism earnings more than doubled from about Sh25 billion to over Sh65 billion to become the country’s lead foreign exchange earner.
But post election violence dealt a blow to the lucrative industry sending the State and private sectors into aggressive marketing campaigns to revive it.
“Indeed, when tourism declines, it is not only Government that is affected by reduced revenue earnings, but also many families suffer when their breadwinners lose their jobs, suppliers lose markets for their products and even small scale traders find it difficult to sell their wares,” President Kibaki said.
But the Head of State said tourism had recovered rapidly and successfully and would be a priority sector to drive economic growth under Vision 2030.
Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Najib Balala said the government was committed to guarding tourism from future threats.
“We have reassured the world that Kenya is safe. Kenya has a unique product of beach and Safari and this product is nowhere in the world except Kenya,” Balala pointed out.
“Because we cherish it, because we have this uniqueness, we have to protect it and that is why we are at the forefront of environmental management,” he stated.