Raila in plea for tourism
Story by ABDULSAMAD ALI
03. March 2008
ODM leader Raila Odinga Sunday made a passionate appeal to
tourists to return to Kenya for their vacations saying the country
is now safe.
Mr Odinga, who is set to become Kenya’s second Prime Minister in a
power-sharing agreement signed with the Government, said the deal
guarantees peace in the country.
He said he was saddened by the devastation the tourism industry
had suffered as result of the violence sparked by the disputed
presidential election results.
“I have noticed how much devastation the industry has undergone
after it had made a steady recovery in the past five years,” Mr
Odinga told the Nation at the Leisure Lodge Beach and Golf Resort
in the South Coast where he is on holiday with his family. He
spoke to the Nation as he and his wife Ida relaxed on beach beds
at the resort.
He added: “I have also seen that hotels are recording less than 10
per cent bed occupancy while the same hotels were recording
between 80 and 90 per cent bed occupancy during this time last
He said the fact that some hotels were still laying off staff even
after more than 25,000 were sent home at the peak of the violence,
“The Government will now take decisive steps to revive the
industry,” Mr Odinga said, adding that there was still room to
make up for the lost time.
He said tourism promoters should think of strategies of marketing
Kenya as a destination in new markets.
Mr Odinga who spoke as tourism stakeholders left the country for
the annual International Tourism Bourse (ITB) festival in Berlin,
urged them to “spread word to the world that Kenya was now safe”.
“Marketing of the industry should be done not only in the
traditional markets but beyond,” he said from his hotel suite. He
predicted that if proper marketing and promotion were carried out,
the industry would recover by mid this year.
Recoup some losses
Mr Odinga urged tour operators to increase their flights to Kenya
saying that at least 10 jumbo jets were needed to fly to Kenya
every week with 5,000 tourist for the remaining part of the season
in order to recoup some of the losses.
The ODM leader praised the people of Coast Province “for standing
with us during the difficult times” and promised to ensure that
tourism recovered as quickly as possible since it was the economic
mainstay of the region.
He appealed to countries which had slapped travel bans on Kenya to
lift them saying that Kenya had the potential to host 10 million
tourist every year.
“On our part as ODM our contribution to promote the industry will
be to push for the construction of the Dongo Kundu by-pass to the
South Coast as stated in our manifesto,” he said and expressed the
hope that their PNU counterpart would also work towards the goal.
Mr Odinga also promised that the port would be expanded and a free
port set up at Dongo Kundu “so that Kenyans to do not have to
travel to Dubai or Singapore for shopping.”
He said the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had offered to
host an investors conference to raise money for the
re-construction of Kenya and urged the country’s development
partners to support Mr Brown’s initiative.