July 25, 2024

Tourism Sector Plans Big in Forex Earnings

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua addressing during Tourism stakeholders on the revival of the once a lucrative sector. (Photo by Halima Said)

By Halima Said

Email, thecoastnewspaper@gmail.com

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua on February 3, 2024 pledged to turn around the tourism sector by making it the country’s top foreign exchange earner.

Dr Mutua, speaking at the Malindi hotel during a tourism stakeholders’ engagement, said his ministry had a plan to revamp the industry’s infrastructure in order to attract domestic and foreign tourists with a special focus on the African market.

According to him the tourism players should not be discouraged by the current state of affairs, but instead invest more saying the future of region’s sector looked bright.

“I am very enthusiastic because the future is very bright. I am here to tell you that if you are thinking of closing your hotel and you want to sell it, let me know so that I can buy it from you because I know I will make a lot of money very soon since we are turning around this industry.”

He added that tourism used to be the top foreign exchange earner and and by God’s grace it would be the number one forex earner in Kenya.

The CS said to achieve that feat the country needed to increase the numbers of tourists and promote high value tourism through providing the infrastructure, systems, services, opportunities and circuits of extremely high value.

His plan, according to him, is to make the Coast region the top entertainment and relaxation zone in Africa while working to improve tourism across the country. This strategy is envisaged adding that to ensure tourist numbers.

“It is going to be the Miami of Africa. We want to transform this region into the Riviera of Africa so that people can fly from West Africa, Cuba, Slovakia, Germany, South Africa, Angola… and come here to relax, enjoy and leave their money with us so that our hotels will be full from January to January without a low season.”

The ministry will initiate projects that will bring changes within two months. Already, funds have been allocated to start work in Malindi, Watamu, Mombasa and Kwale among other areas.

“We have a big plan. In Mombasa we want to build and aquarium because we do not have an aquarium in this part of the world. Over here, we have already awarded a contract for the construction of a marine research centre that will have another mini aquarium right here in Malindi.”

Currently, the ministry is in talks with the Ministry of Transport to get direct flights from Kigali to Malindi as the government thinks about the long-term plans of extending the runway at the Malindi International Airport.

Dr. Mutua said Kilifi County, and in particular Malindi town had the potential of making the region a great tourist hub in Africa and that was why the national government had opted to invest money and programmes to revive the once vibrant sector.

“I want all the hotels in Malindi to be fully occupied by tourists, but to do this we must invest in the improvement of facilities such as lighting, build cabro roads, clean the town in order to have high value tourism so as to attract many tourists here.”

In his engagement with the stakeholders he asked them to give him the specific areas they would like the government to improve assuring that their recommendations would be factored before works can start by the end of next month (March).

Kilifi County tourism executive committee member (name???) said the county administration had started mapping out old and new tourist attraction sites apart from marketing them including the 356-kilometre beach.

She said the county government in conjunction with the national government were exploring the possibilities of building a natural port at Takaungu to tap on cruise tourism.

Stakeholders who spoke during the one-day event praised the CS for his bold moves and called for the improvement of relevant infrastructure so as to bring Malindi back to its former glory.

They called for the speedy extension of the Malindi International Airport’s main runway, clean both the town and Watamu, clean the beaches and install street lights to improve security apart from building toilets on the beaches as well as ensuring tourist police officers are better equipped.

The stakeholders also called for the establishment of iconic sites that would distinguish Malindi from other tourist destinations as well as improve the signages.

They want the government to make the Arabuko-Sokoke a better tourist attraction by increasing wild animals, give foreign house owners permanent resident visas so they can visit the country more often.

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