(eTN) – The Chairperson of the Kenya Tourism Federation, Mrs. Lucy Karume, wasted no time to go on record and condemn the attempts by the parliamentary budget and appropriations committee to rob the tourism sector by diverting half the allotted budget to other, non tourism related purposes.
The Chairman of the Mombasa and Coast Tourism Association, seasoned hotelier Mohammed Hersi, too let fly on his Twitter time line earlier today, all but calling the MP’s responsible imbeciles, a word however used by other stakeholders on open TL or in email exchanges.
KTF’s CEO Agatha Juma has just sent out a strongly worded statement by the KTF Chair, which is taking the battle right back to parliament, and promises to leave no stone unturned until this lunacy has been halted.
KENYA TOURISM FEDERATION STATEMENT
The tourism sector is appalled by reports indicating that Kshs.2 billion has been slashed from the tourism budget to be used to pay teachers allowances and in effect to forestall a strike.
This is a dangerous move and will have severe adverse effects on the economy in the short, medium and long term. The tourism sector is struggling to recover from the down turn it experienced from mid last year till now; this was caused by overseas operators shying away from marketing Kenya as a preferred tourism destination because of the general elections which were held on March 4th.
While there has been optimism in the sector, there have been repeated calls for Government to engage in a serious Tourism Market Recovery Program even as private stakeholders invest more resources in marketing their businesses and the country. The fact that the Jubilee Government promised to give greater focus to tourism sustainability and growth, has given investors’ confidence to plough deeper in their pockets to sustain wage bills even in the face of reduced business that is not supporting costs of doing business.
Should the budget cuts take place, the government should be prepared for massive job losses from the tourism sector as investors cannot forever hold out waiting for business to improve as we will be expecting not an increase (as anticipated) but a decrease in marketing activity. With our competitors giving more focus on marketing their destinations which are not as endowed as ours and already receiving in some instances more than 5 – 10 folds our international tourist arrivals, less visibility for Kenya in the international market is guaranteed to result in even lower tourist arrivals.
The effect will not only be felt by investors and employees in the sector but all other sectors in the economy will feel this move hurting their pockets especially the manufacturing and agriculture sector. The hospitality sector is a large consumer of locally manufactured consumer goods and agricultural produce.
We fail to understand why economic development is being sacrificed with no regard to the consequences it will have. Let government find money from other sources and let tourism play its role in sustaining and growing the economy.
According to the source in Nairobi, Mrs. Karume’s statement has been sent to the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, the Office of the President and the Office of the Deputy President, to the coalition party offices, member of the national assembly and the senate and in particular to the members of the budget and appropriations committee, to warn the latter of their liability for the disastrous consequences for the tourism sector, should the proposed siphoning of funds be formally sanctioned.
In Rwanda, tourism officials expressed their complete shock that Kenya’s parliament would act in such total isolation from reality and wished their colleagues at KTB and the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism well to seal their budget against any encroachment, for whatever purposes.