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Storm brews over CS plan to merge tourism entities

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.

An uproar has greeted the move to merge four tourism agencies into one single behemoth agency called Promotion Kenya. The directive is contained in a letter by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala proposing the consolidation of the agencies involved in the promotion of Kenya into a merged entity called Promotion Kenya.

In a wide-sweeping reform, the new entity will be under the Ministry of Trade, Industrialisation, and Enterprise Development away from the traditional tourism docket.

“Following consultations with government, it has been decided that functions of the Kenya National Convention Bureau be consolidated into Kenya Tourism Board (KTB),” read a letter Mr Balala wrote to his Industrialisation counterpart, Ms Betty Maina.

Mr Balala directed that Kenya Tourism Board be merged with Kenya National Convention Bureau, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding Agency, and Tourism Research Institute and all consolidated into a new entity - Promotion Kenya.

“It is expected that a holistic approach which brings on board all the affected agencies will hasten the conclusion of the merger process as soon as possible,” said Mr Balala.

The CS intimated that a chairperson of the Merger Implementation Committee has been requested to convene a merger committee meeting to speed up the review and finalisation of the merger instruments.

Stakeholders in the tourism sector say the move will take away key responsibilities of marketing the country from the Tourism and Wildlife Ministry. The move means the staff working at the agencies risk losing their jobs as reorganisation and restructuring begin.

The letter was copied to Attorney General Paul Kihara, Treasury CS Ukur Yatani, Tourism Principal Secretary Zainab Hussein, and her Industrialisation and Trade counterpart Johnson Weru.

Others who received a copy of the intended merger include KTB CEO Betty Raider, Kenya Export Promotion and Branding CEO Wilfred Marube, acting Tourism Research Institute CEO David Gitonga and Kenya National Convention Bureau Chief Executive officer Jacinta Nzioka.