Government to vet expatriates in the tourism and hospitality sector

Tourism CS Najib Balala. [Boniface Okendo/Standard]

Expatriates seeking employment in the country’s tourism sector must be vetted by a special committee established by the government.

The 11 member committee to be chaired by Tourism Principal Secretary Joe Okudo is to vet and recommend the expatriates in the tourism and hospitality sector for a period not specified by the government.

Cabinet Secretary for tourism and wildlife Najib Balala said jobs to be taken by the foreigners must those that the hotel industry has been unable to fill using locals.

For an application to be accepted, an applicant must possess unique competencies, qualifications and skills that are not available in the country.

“With respect to any vacancy other than a vacancy reserved for an investor in the tourism and hospitality sector to protect the investor’s interests, ensure that employers have made all reasonable efforts to employ Kenyans without success,” he said.

Hotels will be required to submit up-to date returns on foreigners they employed as expatriates to the team dubbed “Work Permit Vetting Committee for Tourism and Hospitality Sector”.

But even as they vet the foreigners, Balala said in a gazette notice published on Friday that the committee is to encourage exchange programs for locals and vice versa for exposure with the expatriates.

“The committee is to ensure that employers have identified suitable qualified Kenyans to undergo necessary training or to understudy the expatriates with the aim of taking over the position occupied by the expatriate within the period specified in the guidelines criteria,” he added.

Others in the committee that is to hold its meetings once a month are government representatives from the Tourism and Immigration ministries, Tourism Fund, Kenya Hotel Owners and Catering Association and Kenya Association of Tour Operators.

Vetting of expatriates is one of the strategic areas the government listed as a priority in its bid to revamp the tourism sector.