At the heart of the Mombasa government’s push to have all buildings in the CBD painted white and blue is a recognition of the commercial potential of the tourism industry, which is arguably underexploited in Kenya.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council Economic Impact 2018, the travel and tourism sector accounts for 10.4 per cent of global GDP, and it is provided 9.9 per cent of total employment in 2017.
The sector is wide and provides huge employment opportunities, including in the accommodation industry, food and beverage services, recreation and entertainment and transport and travel services. It creates jobs for drivers, cooks, tour guides, travel agents, hotel attendants and many others.
In Kenya’s Sh3 trillion 2018-19 budget, Sh1 billion was aside to scale for promotion of tourism in the country. According to Tourism CS Najib Balala, this budget for the sector is supposed to be used with a lot of accountability.
“You need to interact with your councils so you can tap into those budgets and develop your destination,” Balala told stakeholders of the tourism private sector.
INVESTING IN SAFARIS
Tourism being the second-largest foreign exchange earner in the country, the country is working hard to ensure tourism destinations are properly kept. Balala said Kenya will invest in improving safaris and beaches to boost tourism.
A team will be appointed from the National Tourism Council with the help of the private tourism sector to come up with solutions to improve the two products identified.
Current Statistics from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics show that this year’s visitor arrivals through Jomo Kenyatta Airport and Moi Airport have decreased from 83,652 in February to 75,973 in March.
The tourism industry has recently been faced with problems, especially during the elections last year, where security matters were at stake. The sector is not yet stable but hopes are high on it improving this year.
Popular tourist attraction sites around the country include various parks and game reserves. At the coast, the beaches are the main tourist attraction, as tourists bask in the sandy beaches.
In Mombasa, must-visit places include beaches, Haller Park, Fort Jesus, Mombasa Marine Park, Old Town, elephant tusks, Mamba village, Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre, Ngomongo villages, Jumba la Mtwana, Nguuni Nature Sanctury and Likoni Ferry.
Balala's proposals to boost tourism at the coast include cleaning of the beaches, ensuring security is tight and preventing harassment of tourists.
For this reason, the tourism sector has been cleaning up beaches to ensure they are adorable. But Balala said this should be an ongoing process by residents and not just a government initiative.
“We as the government have taken the initiative of the beach. We have cleaned the beaches, we have removed the dead seaweed. We can sustain it for a while but not all the time. We need your participation and contribution,” the CS said.
“And there must be 24-hour security on the beach. It does not matter if it is at night or during the day.”
He said the government is planning to divide the coast region into five key destinations to help boost tourism at the coast. These include Mombasa, Lamu, Malindi, Watamu and Diani.