Kenya Tourist Board Chairman calls it quits


(eTN) – Michael Joseph, appointed less than 9 months ago as Chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), was yesterday reported to have quit his job for greener pastures. He has landed himself a World Bank appointment, richer in pickings for sure than serving Kenya’s tourism sector as chair of the tourist board.

It was hoped that Joseph, who had made a name for himself as Safaricom’s first CEO, would successfully step into the gap left by the departure of tourism guru Jake Grieves Cook, but left reportedly little behind to be proud of during his short-lived tenure. Notably, he continuously ignored emails, for instance, from this correspondent, in spite of eTN giving Kenya a great deal of positive exposure – not exactly a commendable method of dealing with key media organizations while in charge of promoting Kenya as THE tourist destination in East Africa.

Said one regular source from Nairobi in an overnight mail: “Michael, after initially being very enthusiastic about his appointment, soon changed tune. I think he realized that tourism is a complex industry and not quite like mobile communications. From within the board and management of KTB there has been covert criticism of his lack of vision and input to shape the future of Kenya’s tourism industry.

“Of course, following someone like Jake [Grieves Cook] was never easy to start with, but there was a growing feeling in recent weeks that Michael had run out of steam. Maybe he was more concerned about landing himself a very lucrative appointment somewhere else and used the KTB chairmanship as a springboard, combined with his waning fame as Safaricom CEO. In that company the new man swept out a lot of deadwood and reorganized the company, which under Michael, also went a bit stale in the end.

“For us in tourism it is not good news of course to see a chairman go like that, and we only hope that the minister will consult with the industry to identify and appoint someone with knowledge from the sector who does not need to take a graduate course in the tourism industry affairs first.”

Others asked to comment would not immediately do so before first establishing through their own channels what exactly prompted Michael Joseph to throw in the towel and tender his resignation with immediate effect, citing, according to a KTB source, “a lot of travel in his new job, which will keep him away for much of his time.”

Tourism Minister Najib Balala has reportedly accepted the resignation already, clearing the way for the recruitment of an individual hopefully with better tourism credentials and a track record of NOT quitting when the going gets tough.