African tourism ministers have resolved to help Kenya resuscitate tourism sector that is reeling from negative impacts of insecurity. A statement from Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) issued in Nairobi on Tuesday said the ministers who attended the last week’s 2nd Ministerial Forum Indaba resolved to assist Kenya to salvage a sector that is the second largest source of foreign exchange earnings.
“This is the time to rise up and support each other as a continent. We need to speak one voice,” South Africa Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom said. INDABA, South Africa’s biggest tourism exhibition in continent was held from May 8-11.
Hanekom called for the support on Kenya as one of the leading African countries in tourism affected by external factors, which can spill to its neighbors.
“Acknowledging that Africa was endowed with exciting tourism experiences to offer the rest of the world, the forum made various resolutions,” he added.
The East African nation has witnessed a slump in the number of tourists visiting its national parks and sandy beaches due to a spate of terrorist attacks waged by Al-Shabaab from Somalia.
Industry players have said that an estimated 40,000 people could lose their jobs by the end of the year due to closure of more than 20 hotels in the Kenya’s tourism resort region of the coast.
The UN World Tourism Organization (UN WTO) Africa Regional Director Elcia Grandcourt challenged Africa to do more, sighting the potential of the getting far more arrivals than the about 56 million received in Africa at the close of 2014. She called on the African countries to work together for more gains.
The forum attended by up to 8 ministers from different Africa countries and key captains of industry availed a forum for Africa to share challenges affecting tourism in the continent as well as map ways of working together in collaboration towards a stronger African tourism brand.
Top of these was the call to the African Union to have a tourism agenda just as it has on other issues including security citing the need to establish programmes that avail opportunities for a unified front in marketing and packaging tourism.
KTB said the success of the joint East African Visa was applauded at the forum as a big success in easing movement across the continent and other regions were encouraged to emulate the same.
The forum resolved that each country needed to differentiate its products in order to attract more tourists as opposed to competing, each country should leverage on its strength. The role of the media was singled out in sharing the positive story of Africa.
KTB Director of Marketing, Jacinta Nzioka re-assured the rest of Africa that its long term schedules in investing in tourism were still on course.
Nzioka said recent endorsement of by the Secretary General UNWTO, the various international meetings to be held in Kenya for the rest of the year and a vibrant investment in tourism with more international hotels opening were cited as a sure sign that the country’s tourism sector will bounce back.
“Africa remains a key market to Kenya and KTB is investing more in marketing in the continent,” she added.
She appreciated the delegation of 14 industry players that are currently part of the team marketing Kenya at Indaba.
Kenya’s participation in the South African exhibition comes at a time when a new campaign ‘Choose Kenya’ was launched two weeks ago.
The campaign seeks to reward players in the travel trade who have the highest sales of destination Kenya in the next three months.