Kenya Minister of tourism appoints new tourist board member
(eTN) - As a decades’ long acquaintance, from way back in the 1970s, of Capt.
(eTN) – As a decades’ long acquaintance, from way back in the 1970s, of Capt. John “Johnny” Cleave, it gives this correspondent particular pleasure to report here his appointment to the Kenya Tourist Board as a member of the board of directors. Capt. Cleave, Chairman of Mombasa Air Safari, was recently appointed to the Kenya Tourism Board by the Minister for Tourism Hon. Najib Balala.
Capt. Cleave has, in the past, held numerous positions in Kenya’s key transport and tourism bodies, including serving as former Coast Chairman of the Kenya Air Operators Association; National Skal Kenya Chairman; Acting Chairman of the Kenya Association of Tour Operators; Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman of Ethics; and Chairman of the coast tourism umbrella body, the Mombasa and Coast Tourist Association. For 5 years, he also chaired the Moi International Airport IATA Airline Operators Committee. Recently, he retired from the Board of the Kenya Hotel and Restaurant Authority, arguably to make room for his new appointment to Kenya’s premier tourism promotion body.
Asked why he had accepted to serve in these various positions, being busy running Mombasa Air Safaris as it is, he said that it was based on a belief that advocacy through business member associations worked and that the private sector could bring beneficial change to the economy through dialogue with the appropriate government agencies. However, he went on to admit that this work is more difficult in Kenya, as political corruption is deeply entrenched and public- and private-vested interests often act to avoid change and keep the status quo and in the process protect scams and ineffective processes.
He noted that the tourism industry, if properly promoted, has the capacity to bring in added direct investment, drive up foreign exchange earnings, provide significant numbers of extra jobs, and support poverty alleviation by contributing to GDP growth. However, he also clearly said the government needs to allocate more funds for international tourism marketing and to integrate the efforts of tourism and business marketing, probably under a common “Brand Kenya” theme.
The biggest single deterrent to raising tourism revenues in his opinion is, however, the country’s poor infrastructure. More water, cheaper power, better roads, railways, ports, the new south coast bypass, and investment in airports and aerodromes are essential. This has to be combined with a respect for the law. Kenya cannot position itself as a country of large scale tourism and investment destination without the government first directly investing in the country itself. This, he admitted is beyond the brief of the Kenya Tourist Board, but he added that the goals of Kenya’s “Vision 2030” have to be turned into realistic action plans by a cabinet of hard-working individuals dedicated to national development.
Capt. Cleave hopes courts succeed in convicting corrupt officials, that they be removed from office, and that Kenyans will learn to vote for humble men and women who do not steal from them or make false promises and have the development of their country as their primary goal. Adds this correspondent: words of a true patriot.