By Ronald Owili
Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says the rising political temperatures in the country could spell doom for the fragile tourism sector.
Balala says the current political standoff between the opposition and the government over the fate of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would scare away tourists and investors.
In the recent weeks, the opposition has been leading weekly anti-IEBC protests that have spread from Nairobi to Mombasa, Kakamega, Kisumu and Siaya. Last week the protests turned violent with at least four people killed in Siaya.
Tourism stakeholders feel the political standoff between the opposition and the government over the fate of IEBC commissioners would hurt the fragile tourism sector as well as Kenya’s efforts to attract investments.
Balala says political instability anywhere in the world is known to shake and dent the tourism industry.
He says the anti-IEBC protests as well as plans by the opposition to hold a parallel Madaraka Day celebration are heating up political temperatures which is likely to negatively affect the economy this year.
Balala says the government is working round the clock to fast-track the open skies policy to increase the frequency of charter flights flying into Kenya.
He called for support to Kenya Airways, which brings in about 4.5 million passengers, noting that the plan to have direct flights between Mombasa and London would open Kenya’s tourism market to the international arena.
Hoteliers called on the government to increase funding to the Kenya Tourism Board as well as address insecurity to boost tourism recovery efforts.