After years of relatively stagnant performance, the tourism sector is once again robust, thanks to a surge in domestic tourism and international arrivals.
Tourism Principal Secretary, (PS) Fatuma Hirsi, attributed the positive trend to the lifting of adverse travel advisories by key source tourist markets, infrastructural developments, tax incentives and diversification of tourist attractions.
Speaking at the weekend at the construction site of Ronald Ngala Utalii College in Kilifi County, the PS said domestic tourism continues to drive growth in the hospitality sector particularly at the coast.
She was accompanied by Tourism Fund Chief Executive Officer, Joseph Cherutoi and Chairman of the Fund Henry Koskey.
In the 2016/2017 financial year, we planned to return the sector into prosperity and targeted 1.4 million inbound tourists and raised Sh. 94.6 billion in revenues as a result, she said.
She continued, as we speak we have collected Sh. 100 billion in revenues as the sector continues to pick up following months of tourism recovery efforts.
Ms. Hirsi said they were working towards robust performance of the sector which is currently the second largest foreign exchange earner after Agriculture.
‘As you know in the past, tourism was the number one foreign exchange earner and as a ministry we are planning to return the sector onto a growth path to regain the top spot, she explained.
She expressed optimism that the new Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) line that links Mombasa and Nairobi was likely to boost coastal tourism further.
Without doubt the number of foreign and domestic tourists visiting Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu is definitely going to increase with the SGR, she said.
The PS called for peaceful campaigns in the countdown to the August 8 General Election saying acrimonious campaigns were likely to erode the gains made in the fragile tourism industry.
Kenya is marketed abroad as a favourite holiday destination on account of its inviting long beaches and the hospitality of its people and electoral violence will no doubt dent the fortunes of the tourism sector, said Ms. Hisri.
Koskey assured tourism stakeholders that the government was committed to the completion of the second Ronald Ngala Utalii College that is expected to enhance quality of tourism.
Work on the tourism college has reached 50 percent completion and we assure Kenyans that they will get value for their money, he said adding that the first batch of students would be admitted in 2018 as planned.
Cherutoi said the Kenya Utalii College in Nairobi can no longer meet the demand of students and hotel workers seeking hospitality courses and the government decided to construct a second one in Kilifi to address this need.
Source: Kenya News Agency