Newly appointed Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says his immediate task is to publish and implement recommendations of the Tourism Recovery Task Force appointed by his predecessor, Phyllis Kandie.
He said this would be part of the strategies he would implement to revive and sustain the tourism sector, which has been battered by a two-year recession caused by insecurity, piracy in the Indian Ocean and terrorism.
“As I settle down in office, my main task will be to sit down with key stakeholders to try and implement recommendations from the task force constituted by my predecessor on tourism recovery plans,’’ Mr Balala said in Lamu yesterday.
One of the recommendations in the task force recovery report chaired by veteran hotelier, Ms Lucy Karume, was establishment of a stand alone Tourism ministry.
In the initial ministerial set up announced by President Uhuru Kenyatta when he assumed office in 2013, tourism had been lumped together with East African Affairs and Commerce. However, in his recent Cabinet realignment, the President re-appointed Balala to the tourism docket as a fully fledged ministry.
Balala, who was addressing the media on the sidelines of the 15th edition of the Lamu International Cultural Festival yesterday, said he would be seeking a review of the ministry’s budgetary allocation with the key focus being tourism promotion.
Some h5.2 billion was allocated to tourism in the last budget. “From next week, I shall hold consultative meetings with ministry staff and the private sector with a view to coming up to speed on the latest trends and areas that need quick attention to help boost Kenya’s tourism, which has suffered downward trend for a while now,’’ Balala said.
He announced that he was eyeing a workable recovery plan to implement in three years. On continued collaboration with county governments, Balala said the ministry would strive to ensure counties identify their niche tourism products while the national government complements marketing efforts. (See related story on Page 31)