Kenya sets up task force to save Tourism as hotel closure increases

By George Murage, Source: The Star

A task force on tourism has been formed in the wake of reports kenya-tourismthat hotels at the Coast were closing down due to lack of visitors.

Tourism Secretary Phyllis Kandie said the task force was mandated to market Kenya and address issues raised by various partners.

“We are working with governors in the affected areas and the Ministry of Internal Security so that we can bring back the thousands of tourists,” she said.

Kandie was addressing the press yesterday at the end of a two-day governors’ meeting at the Great Rift Valley Lodge in Naivasha.

She said crime at the Coast has affected business, following the travel advisories issued by various countries.

“We are doing everything possible to address the current situation and we want to assure international tourists that the country is very safe,” Kandie said.

The CS said though the Coast package was still down, the Safari package, which has been embraced by domestic tourists, has picked up.

Meanwhile, farmers will have to wait longer before the government signs the much awaited Economic Partnership Agreement with the European Union.

Kandie said there are handicaps in the process, which has been lagging for more than a year.

She said various parties did not agree on export taxes, rules of origin and human rights issues and governance, leading to anxiety mainly in the floriculture sector.

Despite the challenges, the CS was optimistic that the agreement would be signed before the October 14 deadline.

“Some of the pending issues are at ministerial level and we are working with our partners in the East African Community to have the agreement signed in time,” she said.

Kandie said dependence on few markets has created huge risks for Kenya.

“We intend to diversify our export market to include the Middle East and India and increase our export value to the East African Community,” she said.

Failure to sign the agreement before the deadline will see the country’s flower exports, which are currently zero-rated, slapped with an eight per cent duty in the EU market.

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