CS Balala: Tourism to earn Kenya over Sh100 billion this year
06 September 2016, 09:53
Nairobi - The tourism sector will earn the country KES 100 billion this year, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has said.
Balala disclosed that tourism earned KES 47 billion in the last six months, adding that things are looking up as the sector moves into the high season.
The Cabinet Secretary spoke recently during the historic State House Tourism Summit held at State House, Mombasa, that attracted over 200 million impressions on social media. The summit brought together stakeholders from across the country to dialogue on ways to boost growth of the industry.
Balala exuded confidence that the tourism industry is on a path to full recovery, saying figures show a positive trend with a 14 per cent growth recorded since the beginning of the year. “Overall, we are seeing some progress in the sector,” Mr Balala said. “Our focus is full recovery by June 2018.”
The Tourism Cabinet Secretary said the Government has focused on improving security, infrastructure and marketing in its plan to invigorate the industry. “These are key enablers that will accelerate the recovery of the tourism sector,” the Tourism Cabinet Secretary said.
Balala also disclosed that the Government has pumped Ksh 100 billion in infrastructure development in the coast region alone. He added that the budget for tourism marketing and promotion has more than doubled from Ksh608 million to Ksh1.5 billion this year.
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The Tourism CS said the Government has taken a number of other steps to make Kenya an affordable destination. These include waiving visa fees for children under 16 years, reducing park entry fees, duty exemption on all construction materials for renovation in the tourism sector while VAT on service charge to employee has also been removed.
He said a tourism promotion and development fund will soon be established, saying Kenya uses Ksh 1 billion marketing and cannot compare with South Africa which has excess of Ksh 12 billion allocated for the same function.
“The fund will inject into the sector the necessary funds for promotion and development, he said.
Balala said a crisis management centre has been established while the setting up of a tourism protection centre is also underway and will work with the private sector in handling crises in the tourism sector when they happen.
He said plans are also at an advantage stage to develop a cruise ship terminal in Mombasa which is expected to be ready by August 2017. “Many cruise ships have expressed interest to come to Kenya. The terminal will be useful in developing that segment of tourism,” he said.
Speaking at the summit, Mining Cabinet Secretary Dan Kazungu said mining tourism would help in the diversification of the industry.
Other speakers included Narok Governor Samuel Ole Tunai who is also the Chairman of Tourism in the Council of Governors, Kenya Coast Tourism Association Chairman Mohamed Hersi and British High Commissioner Nic Hailey among others.