By Nicholas Nduati.
Unlicensed tour operators in the country have been put on notice to either register with the government to obtain legal operating licenses or close shop.
According to Kenya Tourism Board Acting CEO Jacinta Nzioka, unlicensed operators give cheap tour packages to customers since they do not pay government taxes thus giving undue competition to genuine businessmen in the tourism sector.
Tour operators in the country, comprised mostly of beach operators, curio operators and safari sellers are lamenting the presence of brief case tourism operators functioning without licenses, and are calling on the government to rein in on them.
A key reason posed by the licenced operators is that besides the unfair competition through uncompetitive pricing, the rogue operators also deny the government of the much needed revenue from taxes.
This is also in addition to reports that tourists are being conned off of their money by rogue operators.
To this end, Kenya Tourism Board Acting CEO Jacinta Nzioka in a statement says the government has committed to reign in on the unscrupulous and unlicensed tour operators. KTB is set to engage with other relevant government agencies and regulatory bodies in the sector in an incl;usive effort at stamping out the menace.
At the same time, KTB has launched a one month long training for domestic tourism sales agents across the country where over 500 operators in Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale counties were involved.
The training which is aimed at sensitizing the agents on the potential the domestic market has in the growth of the tourism sector will further spread to Kisumu, Nakuru and Meru before the launch of phase two in other regions.
The operators have appealed for the provision of more hospitality refresher courses by Kenya Utalii College to improve service delivery in the sector.
According to Nzioka, domestic tourism has grown remarkably in the recent past currently contributing 56% of the total bed occupancy.
A research by Ipsos Synovate commissioned by KTB has also revealed that over 10 million Kenyans are in the middleclass status with their spending power ranging from 24,000 shillings to 120,000 shillings per month.
According to the research, over 1.2 million Kenyans are potential air travelers, adding to the potential of domestic travelling across the country.