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Najib Balala: Road projects to boost tourism at Coast

By Philip Mwakio | September 29th 2021

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (pictured) has said major ongoing infrastructure projects at the Coast will boost the recovery of the tourism industry.

Balala said the Sh28 billion Dongo Kundu by-pass project would spur the growth of the tourism sector at the South Coast. The by-pass links Mombasa to Kwale.

The CS said the bypass would be a gem, as it will ease access to the South Coast.

Balala spoke in Kwale on Monday during the commemoration of World Tourism Day. He said the State would also hasten the expansion of the Ukunda and Manda airports in Kwale and Lamu respectively. The Manda airport is being upgraded at Sh121 million.

The expansion of the Manda Airport runway, from 2km to 2.4km, will enable it to handle bigger aircraft of up to 300 passengers. Ukunda is also being upgraded at Sh2.3 billion.

“In a bid to ensure identity and proper branding, the two airports will have their names changed to Diani and Lamu respectively, to reflect on the destinations they serve,” said Balala.

He said the Transport Ministry had assured him that the upgrade of Ukunda and Manda airports is prioritised.

Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) is also in the process of upgrading the runway of Malindi Airport in Kilifi County from the current 1.4km to 2.4km.

The upgrade of the three small airports at the Coast will boost connectivity within the region and other parts of the world. 

Balala said that Destination Diani remains a key attraction in Kenya, hence the government’s focus of its priorities to ensure seamless connectivity.

Tourism Principal Secretary Safina Kwekwe said domestic tourism had shown resilience during the Covid-19 period. Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa Managing Director Bobby Kamani said World Tourism Day highlighted the real significance of the travel and tourism industry.

He said the theme of this year’s event, Tourism for Inclusive Growth, resonated with the happenings around the world as various sectors of the economy, affected by the pandemic, race towards recovery.

Applaud Kenyans

“We continue to applaud Kenyans for having braved the heavy burden of having to soldier on under difficult conditions. To the government, we applaud the efforts it has put in place to ensure the disease (Covid-19) is contained,” said Mr Kamani.

“We took calculated risks after the pandemic hit us. Slowly we are seeing tourism coming to full recovery. It is our hope as industry players that a full vaccination rollout plan will be achieved to cover the entire length and breadth of our motherland Kenya,” Kamani said.

In a separate interview, Kenya Tourism Board chairman Jimi Kariuki said tourism remained one of the vital sectors, not only in Kenya, but globally, because millions of people are dependent on it.

“As we continue to drive the tourism sector on the journey towards recovery, let us all reflect on how together as a global tourism community, we can move aggressively to promote the sustainability of the sector through the protection of our environment and cultural heritage,” Kariuki said.

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