NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 3 – Entry fees into Kenyan parks for foreign tourists are expected to drop to US$60, which is equivalent to Sh6,078 beginning First July this year.
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has also said that his ministry has agreed with Treasury to exempt park entry fees from being taxed beginning the next financial year.
“I want to say that we have reduced the park entry fee from US$80, temporarily to US$70 dollars. This has already been gazette. From First July, the price of park entry fee will go much lower to US$60,” Balala said.
The move is in a bid to assist in the revival of the tourism industry that has been facing turbulent times following insecurity issues around the country.
“My ministry is therefore in consultation with Treasury to see that under the next financial year, Value-Added Tax for park entry fee will no longer be charged,” he said.
At the same time, Balala said that the Tourism Ministry is putting in all its efforts to support the Kenya Tourism Board. To do this, CEOs who have served more than two terms in parastatals under the Tourism Ministry will have to pave way for new leadership.
“I have met with the board and we have made some new changes. This is to get a new vetting done by the board to manage the parastatals.”
The government is also going to spend Sh2 billion on the Kenya Tourism Board alone. The decision is in a move to transform the board into a marketing body with international standards.
Emphasis will also be directed at the Utalii College. According to Balala, the institution has been accused of producing half-baked graduates who need further training upon entry into the job market.
“We are doing an audit into Utalii College to know what is ailing it and to know how we can turn it around.”
The remarks by the CS follow a previous announcement by the government of a plan to refresh and refurbish hotels at the Coast of Kenya to give it a modern touch.
“There are hotels at the Coast, particularly at the beach that are old and tired. Some were built in the seventies with the technology of then. The government is therefore coming up with a plan to support hoteliers come up with fresh products and experiences to tap into today’s competitive market,” he said.
Balala was speaking during the official opening of the 33rd Holiday Tourism Fair expo at the Sarit Centre in Westlands, Nairobi. He urged exhibitors at the event that included hotels and transport companies to use modern methods to promote their products.
Hoteliers were also challenged to do their part in growing the tourism industry and to not make that role a reserve of the government.
“Use price discounts, especially for locals to get them coming into your hotels. If you only have forty percent occupancy, give better rates to locals who have in the last two years supported the tourism industry better than the foreign market.”
The expo is expected to draw a large audience before closing on Sunday.