Sustain this wind of hope for tourism sector

It’s a major boost for the tourism industry after the British government lifted the crippling travel advisory for Mombasa and the entire stretch of the Coast from Watamu to the border with Tanzania.

This, coming days after the government set aside Sh5.2 billion in the Budget to market Kenya abroad, has raised hopes among industry players that the sector could be rescued from total collapse. The travel advisory had scared British tourists, who account for the lion-share of visitors to Kenya. We received 117,201 visitors from the UK at the close of 2014, compared to 149,699 in 2013.

The lifting of the ban now opens up Watamu, Kilifi, Mtwapa, Shanzu, Bamburi, Mombasa Island, Nyali, Likoni, Tiwi, Diani, Galu beaches, Kinondo, Msambweni, Funsi, Shomoni and Wasini Island, which boast a rich marine park among other attraction sites. The only exclusion now is Malindi and areas further north, including Lamu County.

Increased spending on security is also welcome as it shows government’s commitment to deal with the insecurity nightmare from revenge attacks by the Al Shabaab. The Kenya Tourism Board and the government, have made incessant calls to Western governments to lift the travel advisories, which are chocking a sector already on its knees.

But there is little time to celebrate. Government agencies and industry players must work together to sustain a recovery path. Security measures must be stepped up. Owners of tourism premises must also rise above whining and initiate enticing travel opportunities. Still, the sector has bled long enough, having shed off more than 4,000 jobs. It’s time for revival.