NAIROBI, KENYA, Sept 30 – Kenya only managed to get Sh1.9 billion in revenue collected in the year 2008 from all KWS resorts down from Sh2.6 billion collected in 2007.
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director Julius Kipng\’etich said on Tuesday that the wanton destruction of Kenya’s nature had placed the country’s tourism industry at risk.
“The post election violence and the global economic recession led to the decline in our tourist numbers. However things might get worse if we do not take any action on the degradation of our environment,” he said.
Mr Kipng\’etich pointed out that KWS was aiming to get Sh3 billion in revenue collected from all KWS resorts adding that Kenya should maintain peace at all times to encourage tourism.
“In the next three years we will have an election and in every election year Kenyans do silly things so I am not sure what our revenue will be then. But we need to retain our stability at all times. Otherwise we risk losing that which brings us money,” he said.
Mr Kipng\’etich also revealed that the continuous drought had led to an increase in illegal poaching of wildlife stating that KWS was campaigning for the conservation and preservation of the environment.
“Illegal bush meat intake has increased due to the dry spell in the country. We hope when the drought disappears, this will reduce. However we will continue carrying out random operations where we investigate illegal holding of wildlife trophies,” he said.
He also added that Kenya should strive to maintain and improve one of its key foreign exchange earners stating that the country had enough resources to facilitate this achievement.
“Revenue collected from tourism earnings is very high but we can get more. We are just scratching the surface of an industry which would have made Kenya one of the richest countries of the world,” stated Mr Kipng\’etich.
He warned that further environmental degradation would ruin Kenya’s chances of achieving Vision 2030.
“Our tourism industry which we depend on for revenue is nature based. Any negative impact on the environment has the same effect on our tourism sector and that is why we are very vocal about the Mau,” he explained.
He also took issue with Kenyans’ lack of interest in matters concerning the environment and challenged them to take it up.
“Why are the non governmental bodies silent? How can the government be at the forefront of an environmental campaign? We need to work together to push for reforms in matters revolving around the environment,” he declared.
He joins the likes of Nobel Laureate Prof Wangari Maathai who has in the past warned that Kenya risks losing its tourism sector due to the destruction of its environment.