The Tourism sector receives some good news as Kenya gets ranked second as a Conference and meetings destination in Africa by The International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA). Kenya’s ranking shoots up from its previous third position and comes second after south Africa. It also falls on the 58th position globally in the ‘Country& City rankings 2012’ unfortunately slipping two positions.
Kenyatta International Conference Centre
Tourism permanent secretary Ruth Solitei stated that the performance demonstrates how conference tourism in Kenya is growing and further addressed the need for more convention and conference facilities of international standards in the country.
In city rankings, Nairobi was positioned second after Cape Town having hosted 22 international meetings while the latter hosted 38. Mombasa and Naivasha tied at position 34 with Naivasha making a remarkable first time entry in the rankings. It has been regarded as an emerging city destination. Last year, Kenya hosted 29 international association conferences and Nairobi emerged 100th best city destination, up four places from the position it held in 2011.
USA topped the list globally after hosting 833 conferences with Germany in second position followed by Spain having hosted 649 and 550 conferences respectively.
In a clean up initiative dubbed Mji Wetu Wajibu Wetu, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho led amongst others; students, local music artists, the US navy, companies, politicians and other residents in an effort to bringing out a new image to Mombasa county. The exercise launched on the 18th of may, targeted areas known to be a menace in terms of garbage accumulation; Kongowea Market, Mwembe Tayari, Marikiti (Mackinon), Majengo and other parts of the CBD.
This initiative which is sponsored by the private sector is clearly a step in the right direction although eliciting mixed reactions; some locals have applauded the efforts while others are still reserved about it stating that cleaning the town once a month will bring no clear change. Earlier on, hoteliers and some businessmen had gone to court accusing the Mombasa Council of not collecting garbage.
The exercise is aimed at making Mombasa one of the cleanest in East Africa as well as attracting more tourists in a better, cleaner environment. It has since been declared a monthly exercise.
Although amidst opposition, in reference to her suitability to take office by members of the committee on appointment, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie can finally breathe a sigh of relief as the new Tourism cabinet secretary. This docket also incorporates East African affairs and Commerce. Seeing as the ministerial positions are no longer politically based (cabinet secretaries are not inclined to any political party and/or are not politicians) Kenyans are hopeful to see immense growth and development having that the appointment of the new cabinet in place is mainly (the loyalty card was used on some obvious appointments) based on Merit.
Mrs. Kandie comes into office at a time when the tourism sector is experiencing major challenges that need to be dealt with immediately if growth in ratings and arrivals is to be expected. For instance the docket is at the moment lacking directors and members of various boards that fall under it after the outgoing minister Dan Mwazo went on a firing rampage in the name of transforming the ministry. Furthermore, the current insecurity situation in the country has proven to be a threat to tourism as well with the number of arrivals reducing by the day. Other challenges include; increase of wildlife poaching, poor marketing of Kenya as a tourism destination, Failure of implementing the Tourism Act and also the fact that this year was an election year, many tourists preferred to stay away in fear of a repeat post-election violence occurrence.
With this and many more other factors in tow, Mrs. Phyllis Kandie sure has her work cut out for her. As president Uhuru Kenyatta expressed, the tourism sector expects to expand to 3 million visitors and therefore she definitely has a lot of work to do; not time for dilly-dally. Hopefully her background and experience in various sectors will help catapult this industry to the top.