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Tourism industry recovery in Kenya.
Sunday, 18th May 2008
Source : UNWTO
UNWTO secretary-general Francesco Frangialli visited Kenya recently to underline the Organization's support of the country's all important tourism industry.

This trip concludes his recent series of visits to other African countries, aimed at reinforcing their capacity to renew their tourism development.

The publicized post election tensions within Kenya resulted in a major drop both in visitors and tourism income amounting to a loss of up to 90% of tourism business in the first two months of 2008, according to Kenyan tourism authorities. This compares with 2007 when the countries' destinations received 1.5 million international arrivals and tourism was the major industry providing more than of 15% of Gross Domestic Product.

According to the Secretary-General, the tourism industry has proved its resilience in the past. He offered UNWTO's help in the re-establishment of the tourism industry, which is now entering the first stage of recovery.

"We should stress that in the recent troubles no tourist was ever threatened, no tourism infrastructure damaged and, perhaps most importantly, the major areas visited by tourists – in fact over 80% of the country – were completely unaffected by the troubles. I confidently expect that Kenyan tourism will fully recover. There are many ways in which we may speed up this recovery", he said.

Investment and technical support

Kenyan Ministers stressed the need to invest in tourism and thereby enabling a speedy recuperation of the sector. This would assist the economy, the stability of the administration and the country as a whole.

In a first assessment, the Secretary–General considered actions such as:

marketing promotion and Internet positioning through UNWTO's partnership with Microsoft;
providing technical support to existing educational establishments and to the establishment of new projects;
technical assistance through a joint conference between UNWTO and the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), looking at the recovery and the future of Kenyan tourism and the influence of climate change and other vital environmental issues on the tourism industry, as agreed with the Executive Director of UNEP. Achim Steiner.

The Prime Minister of Kenya, Railla Odinga, welcomed the Secretary-General's visit which, in itself, he said "demonstrates that Kenya is at peace and starting on the road to recovery". He added that "there are many important calls on the budget at this time, there are only a few wealth creating areas and we must support those now in order to get a return on that investment which can, in turn, be used to rebuild our economy".

During his visit, UNWTO Secretary-General Francesco Frangialli also met with the Minister of Tourism Najib Mohamed Balala, M.P, The Hon. Cecily Mbarire, M.P., Assistant Minister of Tourism and The Hon. Richard O. Onyonka M.P., Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs. Furthermore, he addressed the senior management and staff of the Kenya Tourist Board and met major representatives of the tourism industry.

A member of UNWTO's Technical Cooperation Department will be visiting Kenya in the second half of May to follow-up on some of the decisions made by the Secretary-General, as well as to prepare a new project by the Organization's ST-EP Initiative (Sustainable Tourism – Eliminating Poverty).

The proposals for UNWTO's support for the region will be further discussed at the forthcoming Forty-seventh meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa, in in Abuja, Nigeria (13-16 May).

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