Government assures tourists of safety during election

Tourism Cabinet Secretary (CS), Najib Balala has assured tourists planning to visit Kenya that the country is safe for holiday despite the scheduled August 8 election.

Balala said that the government was doing everything possible to ensure peace and security prevailed before, during and after the electioneering period and hence tourists should feel secure as they enjoy their holidays.

He said the high tourist season had started and already, international tourists were flocking to witness the wildebeest migration at Maasai Mara National Reserve.

We want them to feel free and safe as they enjoy their holiday, Balala said at Diani, Kwale County on Thursday when officiating at the 15th annual tourism symposium organized by the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers.

He said the government would not allow the election to interfere with tourism which is among economic mainstays of the country.

The CS warned that the government would take stern action against illegal criminal youth gangs at the Coast that may cause violence saying nobody would be allowed to scare away tourists.

We will not sit down and let criminally-bent young boys damage the reputation of the coast region by scaring away tourists who are one of our main sources of revenue, he said.

At the same time, Balala urged the county governments to work closely with the Ministry to ensure growth of the tourism sector.

County governments set aside tourism budgets but there is nothing much they are doing on tourism except organizing annual cultural events instead of aggressively marketing their attractions, he said.

According to the CS, launching of the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) has boosted tourism by reducing the hours spent by visitors to the coastal region.

He noted that the railway would help in improving domestic tourism since it would take less time to reach Coast.

Balala said the tourism in Mombasa and Kwale Counties stood to benefit further once the two new ferries are launched at the Likoni channel.

Kenya Association of Hoteliers and Caterers Chairperson, Jaideep Vohra lauded the government for launching the railway infrastructure, saying it would boost the sector.

As hoteliers, we believe that the SGR will boost domestic tourism as it has made accessibility to the Coast easier, he said.

Source: Kenya News Agency