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Tourism: More than money is required  Aug 27, 2008

President Kibaki was spot-on when he pledged that the Government will provide more funds for tourism marketing.

Unlike in the past, the tourism budget was slashed, and a mere Sh400 million earmarked for the purpose when more than Sh1 billion is required.
Never in the history of this country has tourism been so important. After two months of chaos early in the year that painted the country negatively, a lot of money must be used to repair the country’s image.

The world must be convinced that Kenya has turned the corner and that its hospitality is at its peak. That is no mean task.

Due to the violence, many holiday-makers cancelled their bookings and the entire hospitality industry quickly went down on its knees.

Promoting tourism, however, is not just about marketing. There must be something to be marketed. This is where the challenge lies.

Even without the politically-driven chaos, the country has suffered negative publicity due to insecurity. Criminal gangs that daily unleash mayhem in towns and some parts of the country continue to send very alarming signals to potential visitors.

Matters are made worse by the dilapidated infrastructure. For example, it has taken too long to fix the Maai-Mahiu-Narok road that leads to the fabled Maasai Mara. Many other roads on the western Kenya circuit are in a poor state.

Water, electricity and telephone services are not available in many parts of the country and where they are, they are unreliable.

Add that to the fact that Kenya’s tourism is based on natural attractions, and the country loses its competitiveness, especially to the emerging destinations that have diversified their holiday offers.

The long and short of this is that the Tourism ministry and other stakeholders must come up with innovative ways to attract more visitors.

More funds are certainly required, but what is urgent is a comprehensive package to resuscitate the hospitality industry.

Tourism: More than money is required
Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki /

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