, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 19 – Players in the tourism sector have expressed their disappointment by reports indicating that Sh2 billion has been slashed from the tourism budget to be used to pay teachers allowances and forestall a strike.
The Kenya Tourism Federation (KTF) says if the budget cut takes place, the government should be prepared for massive job losses from the tourism sector.
Federation Chairperson Lucy Karume says the effect will not only be felt by investors and employees in the sector but all other sectors in the economy.
They say the hospitality sector is a large consumer of locally manufactured consumer goods and agricultural produce.
The players want the government to seek funds from other sources and let tourism play its role in sustaining and growing the economy.
“Investors cannot forever hold out waiting for business to improve as we will be expecting not an increase as anticipated, but a decrease in marketing activity,” Karume said in a statement. “This is a dangerous move and will have severe adverse effects on the economy in the short, medium and long term.”
They complained that this was just the wrong time to take such a move as the tourism sector is struggling to recover from the down turn it experienced from mid last year.
This was attributed to overseas operators shying away from marketing Kenya as a preferred tourism destination because of the General Elections which were held on March 4 this year.
While there has been optimism in the sector, the federation says, there have been repeated calls for the government to engage in a serious Tourism Market Recovery Program even as private stakeholders invest more resources in marketing their businesses and the country.
“The fact that the Jubilee government promised to give greater focus to tourism sustainability and growth, has given investors confidence to plough deeper in their pockets to sustain wage bills even in the face of reduced business that is not supporting costs of doing business,” they complained.
They fear that less visibility for Kenya in the international market is guaranteed to result in even lower tourist arrivals, adding that their competitors are giving more focus on marketing their destinations.
“We fail to understand why economic development is being sacrificed with no regard to the consequences it will have,” they said.