News 2008


Raila in plea for tourism revival

Daily Nation


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.

Bed occupancy

“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 year.”

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, was worrying.

“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.