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May 2014 travel news 43
If Richard Corcoran’s letter taught me one
thing, it was that communication is without
doubt the most important single factor to
resolution of any kind, anywhere in this
world of ours. I state the obvious.
But why are we human beings so
bad at it?
Communication (from Latin commūnicāre,
meaning “to share”) is the activity of
conveying information through the
exchange of thoughts, messages, or
information, as by speech, visuals, signals,
written, or behaviour. It is the meaningful
exchange of information between two or
more living creatures.
In Richard’s letter he talks of the frustrations
as seen from the private sector on the state
of play in Kenya’s tourism industry. The
industry responds massively in support
of all he says. Government is not best
pleased. They have a plan, which they
have not communicated to anyone outside
This all unfolds as Richard’s letter goes
viral. So what’s the plan then?
HE President Uhuru Kenyatta in January
this year, constituted a Tourism Advisory
Board (TAB) mandated to come up with
solutions to stem the tide and turn the
industry around. If I recall correctly, they
were given two weeks to do this.
TAB was mostly made up of bureaucrats,
with a few private sector players, but mostly
in their roles of Association heads.
I have the report, called the ‘Tourism
Recovery & Re-Branding Proposal’ dated
27th February 2014. It makes compelling
reading – well maybe that’s a bit of a
stretch, but what it does is address a lot
of Richard’s and the tourism industry's
From this document, I can assume, came a
welcome announcement from the Cabinet
Secretary Tourism that government has
a ten-point plan to revitalize the tourism
industry, most of which I don’t have a
problem with. What I have a problem with
is the timeline - 2-3 months - and where
they are going to spend their marketing
budget. The traditional source markets
seem to have been ignored, with Rwanda,
Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa the new
tomorrow. What are they on?
So, we have no communication, then a lot
of communication – and then a response,
which, in itself is a communication. Things
are looking up, you’ll agree. But a lot more
communication is still needed to get this
right and the lobby group that was formed,
as a direct result of Richard’s letter, is a
good place for government to start.
Something else that came out loud and
clear was for all parties to work together
for the common good. Kenya’s...
All the above said, if you go out in the
woods today, you’re in for a big surprise.
Our parks are all looking magnificent,
verdant, with fantastic wildlife viewing;
there is no better time to be in Kenya than
Amongst the doom and gloom you find,
with a little spadework, great stories of
regeneration in Kenya’s tourism industry.
On Diani Beach the Indian Ocean Beach
Club is opening up again; Pride Inns has
bought the former Paradise Beach Hotel
in Shanzu and is spending a fortune
refurbishing it. The Residence also on Diani
is a new multi-million pound development.
The list might go on – I’m sure it does – but
no one is telling. Hello, communicate...
Something good is also happening in
Narok County. I’ve been invited to a mega-
meeting in the Masai Mara in early May to
be attended by the good and the great of all
things tourism and beyond; Government at
all levels, the private sector, communities
What’s it all about, I ask?
I’m not sworn to secrecy, but I’m not told
much. The big goal appears to be to
reduce the impact on wildlife in the National
Reserve and if I read it correctly in all of
This would apply for all Conservancies
and the flotsam and jetsam that surround
Reducing the impact are nice words
for sure, but how will they do it? Fewer
vehicles are one thought, but how do you
accomplish that? All camps and lodges
in the County will require a full set of
approvals, before they can operate. There
are lots both big and small that apparently
fall into this category.
My first obvious question was, with fewer
camps and vehicles (therefore tourists),
how would this impact on park fees in the
greater Mara? They have a plan, which
importantly does not see any increase
in park fees. Back to pre-VAT days, it is
suggested. I think the plan is for a ten-
month Mara season – marketing the
reserve not only for its Great Migration as
is done now – hello July and August, but
promoting the attractiveness of other times
of the year in a de-stressed environment,
conducive to game viewing and interaction
with the Communities of Narok County.
Exciting times indeed. All started with a
little bit of communication.
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