UN pledges support to boost recovery of Kenya's tourism sector
27 April 2015, 08:32
Nairobi - The UN World Tourism Organization (UN WTO) said Saturday it will support Kenya's long-term initiatives to resuscitate the tourism sector that is reeling from negative impacts of insecurity and global financial crises.
UN WTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai said the international community will assist Kenya to salvage a sector that is the second largest source of foreign exchange earnings.
"The UN stands with Kenya as the country undergo a painful phase occasioned by terrorist attacks. We will support anti- terrorism measures to help restore the tourism sector," Rifai told journalists in Nairobi after holding a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and senior government officials.
Kenya has witnessed a slump in the number of tourists visiting its national parks and sandy beaches due to a spate of terrorist attacks.
Industry players said on Friday that an estimated 40,000 people could lose their jobs by the end of the year due to closure of 23 hotels in the Kenyan coast.
Rifai stressed that Kenya must cooperate with the international community to find durable solution to insecurity that affects overall economic growth.
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"A regional approach is required to boost recovery of Kenya's tourism sector. Other interventions that are critical include investments in training and infrastructure," Rifai said.
In his meeting with Kenyatta, Rifai said Kenya is a good destination for tourists and the international community should give the country unconditional support.
He said Rifai said Kenya is a shining example in the tourism sector and that the entire UN system supports the country to achieve its goals.
Rifai called on the international community to give Kenya an absolute and unconditional support adding that the travel advisories issued by certain nations do not ague well for the tourism industry and general development.
"These forces of darkness want to scare people from coming to Kenya but we should not allow them to derail us from our goals," he said.
UN WTO has urged foreign governments to suspend travel advisories warning their citizens against visiting Kenya. Rifai noted that terrorism is a global problem that requires collective efforts to root out.
"We are encouraging citizens from developed and emerging economies to visit Kenya. Countries should be sensitive to the plight of economically challenged states before issuing travel advisories," said Rifai.
He commended Kenyatta for taking proactive steps in dealing with terrorism by ensuring that the country continues to open up to all visitors from all over the globe.
Rifai said his organization is taking positive action in promoting Kenya as one of the best tourist destination by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Government to ensure the sector is sustainable.
The MOU is to provide the government of Kenya with a crisis management tool kit and manual to help the country respond to tourism related crisis especially in the international stage.
Kenyatta said Kenya will not succumb to threats and that it will continue encouraging coexistence amongst its citizens.
The president urged Western nations to always consult deeply before issuing travel advisories so as to understand the kind of negative impact that can be caused by those actions.
"Sometimes these advisories are put without much consideration, when you issue advisories you create fear and despondency," Kenyatta said.
Kenyatta said some of the East African Community member states have already undertaken joint ventures to promote and woe more tourists in the region.
"We have a common tourist's visa between, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, very soon we hope to see Tanzania and Burundi coming on board," said the president.
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