The Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism have unveiled an ambitious five-year strategic plan to raise Tourism revenues to Sh200 billion annually, from the current Sh96 billion. Tourism Secretary Phyllis Kandie Tourism Secretary Phyllis Kandie. This will involve the execution of a campaign and marketing programme that will see tourist arrivals in the country rise to three million per annual from the current 1.8 million. Since Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are in one East African community, tourists can as well go gorilla tours in Uganda or Rwanda or in both thus memorable safaris.
The plan intends to consolidate the traditional tourism source markets of Europe and America. It will also venture into new emerging markets of Asia, Middle East, India, East Europe and Brazil. Speaking during the launch of the plan, East African Community, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie added that the ministry will soon set up the Tourism Regulatory Authority as provided for in the Tourism Act 2011.
The regulator will reign in rogue tour operators and streamline operations in the sector so as to raise the standards of tourist potentials. “This will guide this ministry pursuit of increased tourist arrivals, fast track regional integration, support traders and all Kenyan enterprises in alignment with Vision 2030,” said Ms Kandie.
According to the tourism secretary, Ms Kandie, the strategic plan was a product of extensive stakeholder consultation and will help to establish a framework for monitoring and evaluating performance. The establishment of a commodities exchange to market value-added products from Kenya — both locally and internationally as well as an intense awareness campaign on the benefits of regional integration is among the key highlights of the strategic plan.
Ms Kandie expressed confidence that the ongoing negotiations between the European Union and EAC on Economic Partnerships Agreement. She said the pact that puts hundreds of thousands of Kenyan jobs on the line and billions of shillings of revenue through exports to EU at stake will be concluded expeditiously. “In driving the mandate of the Ministry, the intention is to promote EAC regional Integration, promote trade, promote Tourism Product development and Innovation and Marketing of Kenyan Tourism Products,” she observed.
This will accelerate the expansion of the regional market and formulate and implement a coherent regional integration policy and strategy for Kenya. It will also implement the EAC Single Customs Territory through the introduction of tax payment at the first point of entry and conclude negotiations on Comesa-EAC-South African Development Co-operation Tripartite Free Trade Area. Apart from targeting the tourism revenue in upwards of Sh200 billion yearly, the ministry seeks to encourage the expansion of hospitality industry facilities including bed capacity to over 30,000 addition beds.
To ensure increased revenues, the plan seeks to establish three more conference and convention centres in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu to attract business tourists. This alongside, the diversification of the products to include sports, cultural and medical tourism will ensure a vibrant sector.
In spite of the fact, Kenya hosts no mountain Gorillas like Uganda, Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo but she has the potential of competing favourably in the tourism sector of the region. This is so because Kenya is endowed with many National parks and game reserves which protect a variety of tourist attractions. National parks in Kenya include Amboseli National Park, Arabuko Sokoke National Park, Hells Gate and Mount Longonot National Parks, Kora National Park, Lake Nakuru National Park, Marsabit National Park, Meru National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, Mount Elgon National Park, Nairobi National Park, Ol Donyo Sabuk National Park, Ruma National Park, Saiwa Swamp National Park, Sibiloi National Park, Tsavo East National Park, Tsavo West National Park.
Game reserves include: Arawale National Reserve, Boni National Reserve, Dodori National Reserve, Kakamega Forest National Reserve, Kisumu Impala Sanctuary, Samburu National Reserve, Buffalo Springs National Reserve, Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary, Shimba Hills National Reserve, Masai Mara National Reserve, Mwea National Reserve, Witu Forest Reserve (Utwani Forest Reserve)