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Tourism stakeholders react to media reports

06 July 2012, 12:32 Alloys Musyoka

Tourism stakeholders in Malindi and Watamu tourist hub have raised concern over media negative reporting claiming will scare away tourist planning to visit the country.

Chairman of Hotels and Caterers Association North Coast region Philip Chai said recent publication of “Italian Mafia grip Malindi” on a daily newspaper should not be ruled out as it can cost tourism sector.

Reacting to the recent publication among others which he said are uncalled for since they are dirtying tourism sector in the area during a press conference, Chai said government should step in and deal with some of the Italian Mafias in the area since it has all machinerys instead of generalizing all Italians.

“We don’t say that there are no foreign mafias in Malindi even in the country we have mafia from within the country but not all Italians who are Mafia so condemning all tourists in the tourism sector which country depends on mostly is unfair,” he said

He said there are many Italians operating big Hotels in the area who were not mafias saying the publication was not fair as it condemned all Italians and that can cause a big blow to the tourism industry.

Chai who is also the Manager of Lion in the Sun Hotel a Billionaires’ investment said Law Society of Kenya should have engaged with appropriate people in the country to address the issue instead of going public to accuse all Italians community in Malindi.

“We are saying the government has all machinery's and it should deal with those mafias because we know they are there but not accusing all Italians here that was wrong,” he noted.

However Chai said already there were about five tourists Hotels which had been opened in Malindi for the coming tourist season expected to begin from 15 July.

He downplayed the issue of chain of grenades attacks in different towns of the country saying they have not affected the tourism sector though he was quick to add that there was some cancellation of tourists coming in the country in the coming tourist period but could not disclose how many cancellations and specifically from which country.

“We know there are some cancellations but there some information when put in the media will automatically sent a message to tourists planning to tour the country not to come and that will affect our economy because we depend on tourism,” he asserted.

He said tourism sector is expecting increase in tourist visiting the country in the coming tourism period compared to the previous one since Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) have done a lot of marketing for the country.

“Kenya Tourism Board has done a lot of marketing in this sector and a lot of tax payers money have been used so lets be patriotic and to our country when exposing some issues to the world.

There has been killings in Florida, and Miami among other areas in the United States have you ever seen them in any publications why lets be mindful to our dear country please,” he noted.

He said fall of tourism sector due to negative reporting can cost Kenya as many people will remain unemployed.

On the issue of some tourist staying in private Villas evading to pay taxes, he said the government through ministry of tourism should be responsible since they have records of such Villas.

“They are the ones who should go there identify, register and license them as well as making sure they pay taxes because license,” he added.

Chai also said there is need for the road from Mombasa to Malindi to be improved as we approach tourism season since it is dilapidated compared to the one from Likoni to Ukunda.

‘The contractor did a very shoddy job and now the road is not in good conditions and that it is the one that we expect tourists to be using every time they visit our country something should be done,” he asserted.

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