East African tourism target maybe feasible

Published on : Wednesday, January 15, 2014

East-African-tourismAccording to observers, East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie’s plan to increase the number of tourists visiting the country from 1.8 million to three million by 2017 may be ambitious but it is feasible. All her ministry needs to meet the target is an improved security environment and a better targeted marketing and sales strategy.

The bigger challenge might, however, arise from closer home — the dilapidated state of the requisite infrastructure. The roads in many game reserves and lodges should attract reater attention than they seem to have done in the past. People living along these roads should also be vigorously discouraged from the creeping habit of holding motorists — including tourists — to ransom whenever they have local grievances they want the authorities to address. Quality issues If this leads to arresting and taking to court the unruly mobs who block highways, so be it. But, perhaps, the greater challenge that requires concerted efforts is the apparent dearth of quality accommodation in the game parks and cities like Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

This scarcity is felt every time there is a major conference or convention. Indeed, there is anecdotal evidence that some global conference organisers, at times, bypass Kenya in favour of South Africa simply because of fears that the country does not have the capacity to host a large number of people simultaneously.

To remedy this situation, the ministry may have to adopt some confidence building measures that will encourage investors to shift their attention into the sector. The ministry could also dust off the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation to assist new investors get a foothold in the sector.

But, in the meantime, the quick win could be to set up mechanisms that would draw owners of idle homes in the cities and their environs to open them for tourists.

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