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May 2014 travel news 11
Last month we published an excellent if rather long letter from Richard
Corcoran, a tourism warrior of note. He pointed out what was wrong with
Kenya's tourism and offered remedies to cure the same. The response from
a broad cross-section of the tourism fraternity, both local and overseas,
previous visitors, residents - all was phenomenal. Our Facebook page
which replicated Richard's letter had in excess of 40,000 views, which
is mega, especially for such a focused topic as this. The letter was also
published in its entirety by Nairobi's Business Daily and Sunday Nation.
Government has taken note, and a strong private sector lobby group
whose aim is to work with government is up and running as we speak.
Already the scrapping of VAT on travel agent service charges has passed
its second reading in Parliament, with one more to go. It is hoped that
the same will apply to VAT on conservation fees in the coming months.
Although I'll add, there is a lot of work still to do - but it is a work in
progress. We live in hope!
Something else learnt from this exercise is the need to communicate
between all branches of the tourism fraternity and government. While
the private sector and industry stakeholders bemoaned inaction by
government, something was already happening albeit unbeknownst to
Richard's letter has made a difference; how it plays out is a huge question.
Some selected responses to his letter appear in the next few pages.
I have just enjoyed another edition of Travel
News. The letter about tourism conditions
in Kenya is sad, can’t believe that it has
come to this.
Have friends that had intended to go to
Kenya, I told them how wonderful it is, but
they opted for Tanzania, and only because
of the difference in cost... Can’t the powers
that be see how foolish it is not to nurture
travel in Kenya... such a shame... lots of
money to be spent by the tourists, sad it is
not coming to you...
I fully agree with Richard. I would add to
this that the impact caused by the dying
tourism industry on our wildlife is huge.
With no park entrance fees, KWS will not
be receiving the necessary funding to look
after the parks and wildlife. The loss of
jobs brings in desperation, and so many
unemployed tourism people, especially in
and around the parks, will be easy targets
to become poachers.
Last year during our budget, tourism was
given the sort of budget we had been
asking for many years. We were all jubilant
that, at last, we would be a marketing
force that even South Africa would have
to reckon with. Our celebrations were very
short-lived and this marketing budget was
slashed to a mere drop in the ocean. No
marketing means no business - it is as
simple as that. Then with our bad stories,
we have never had any PR to counter it
with our many many good stories. Imagine,
Egypt, which has a lot more trouble than
Kenya, has such a good PR machinery
that millions of people are still travelling
there. An operator in England said to me,
“Kenya is off the tourism radar”. And that is
the reality of this very sad situation
I agree 100% with everything Richard has
said. He is spot on with every comment
with the exception of the one towards the
end where he says the Kenya Government
is killing tourism slowly but surely. I would
argue it is now happening very quickly.
As an example, a new and very luxurious
and well-built resort on Diani Beach is
simply unable to survive and owners have
now put it up for sale.
I could not agree more, this is a very sad
state of affairs that Kenya is killing itself
in regards to unjust pricing. I am a small
travel company selling Africa and Kenya
is one of my all-time favourites. I have
been coming since Uhuru in 1963... It
does deliver but all said and done these
outrageous fees + VAT is making it very
unsellable. Where will it all end?
Love the online magazine. I just returned
from a 3-week trip; may I send you some
photos? I visited Laikipia and several areas
in the Mara, witnessing the overgrazing in
the Talek region; cattle got stuck in the
reserve overnight due to heavy flooding of
the Talek River...
Travel Agent UK
Additionally I am reliably informed that
two other coastal properties are also up
for sale. These are all properties whose
owners have decided they simply cannot
continue to finance losses and Kenya's
beach tourism has no future. I sadly think
that several more hotels will soon follow
and that this is a trend that will be almost
impossible to reverse if the Government
does not act now to save a collapsing
Another really key concern we should have
is safari vehicles. The current Nissan safari
minivan as we know it has now ceased
production and the last 80 units have now
been allocated. Therefore these vehicles
will cease to exist meaning the only option
would be the Toyota Hiace (much more
expensive to buy and operate) or to focus on
4x4 safari vehicles as they do in Tanzania.
Our intent was to look towards the latter
and to focus on promoting the extended
chassis 4x4 safari vehicles to our agents
and clients so we could compete product
wise with Tanzania. However...
A team recently met with the Director-
General of NTSA, Mr. Francis Meja. During
the meeting several issues were discussed.
However one thing the NTSA Director-
General singled out was his position on
the extension of the chassis on safari
vehicles and clearly stated that this was
one modification that would NOT be
allowed for TSV vehicles. This now takes
the extended 4x4 Landcruiser also away
from Kenyan operators as a means of
This vehicle has worked perfectly for
years and to date I am not aware of one
single safety incident or accident that
has occurred due to an extended chassis
conversion being faulty.
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