MOMBASA, Kenya, June 27 — Phyllis Kandie may have been accused by the Parliamentary Committee on Appointments of being inarticulate, but the Tourism Secretary had no problem putting unlicensed tour operators on notice.
Addressing the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers (KAHC) at a symposium in Mombasa on Thursday, Kandie said the unlicensed operators are creating unfair competition in the tours business and cheating the government out of taxes.
“Rogue tour operators is an issue that has been brought to my attention. As a Ministry, this menace which is undermining the hard work of reputable, taxpaying tour operators will not be tolerated,” she said.
The Tourism Secretary said her Ministry would post a list of all licensed tour operators on their website as a short term measure before the Tourism Regulatory Authority is established as per the Tourism Act 2011.
“I want to let you know that we shall deal with them firmly. Their time is up. We need to clean up the industry and we are resolute on this. Consequently, we intend to register and list all reputable tour operators on our Ministry website and open a facility for reporting those who want to reap where they have not sown,” she said.
Kandie also directed all tour operators to obtain association membership so they can better represent their needs to the government.
KAHC on the other hand was called upon to include Uganda when targeting local tourists, “I was in Uganda the other day and as it’s a landlocked country, they expressed a lot of interest in our beaches, especially if we offer them special packages,” Kandie said.
Hotels in the coast region were also encouraged to use part of their profits in the refurbishment of their facilities given a decline in foreign visits.
“Deterioration of facilities is a major issue, especially when compared to competing beach destinations like Zanzibar, Seychelles and South Africa,” Kandie said.
In addition to her tough talk, Kandie made a number of promises to the tourism sector including increasing the marketing funds allocated to the Kenya Tourism Board, the implementation of the Tourism Act 2011, faster processing of visas at the airport and an improved road network.
“I’ve been assured by my colleague at the Minstry of Infrastructure that the road heading from the (Moi International) airport will be built as a double carriage way all the way to Changamwe. He has also assured me that the Dongo Kundu bypass has already been allocated to the Japanese for them to come and build it,” she said.
Kandie is due to end her weeklong tour of the coast on Saturday where she among other things attempted to identify a possible location for a conference centre at the coast.