Kenya is a good destination for tourists and the international community should give the country unconditional support a top world tourism official has said.
Speaking this morning when he paid a courtesy call on President Uhuru Kenyatta at State House Nairobi, World Tourism Organization Secretary General, Dr. Taleb Rifai said Kenya is a shining example in the tourism sector and that the entire United Nation system supports the country to achieve its goals.
He said terror is a global challenge which requires all nations to join hands in combating it.
“I want to assure you that you are not alone in this, we will support you Your Excellency,” he said.
Dr. Rifai called on the international community to give Kenya an absolute and unconditional support adding that the travel advisories issued by certain nations do not ague well for the tourism industry and general development.
“These forces of darkness want to scare people from coming to Kenya but we should not allow them to derail us from our goals,” he said
He commended President Kenyatta for taking proactive steps in dealing with terrorism by ensuring that the country continues to open up to all visitors from all over the globe.
“You have managed to open up and not closed into yourself as a country, but rather you have brought the world to yourself,” Dr. Rifai said.
Dr. Rifai said his organization is taking positive action in promoting Kenya as one of the best tourist destination by signing a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government to ensure the sector is sustainable.
He said the MOU is aimed at restoring the image and repositioning Kenya as wonderful tourist destination.
The MOU is to provide the Government of Kenya with a crisis management tool kit and manual to help the country respond to tourism related crisis especially in the international stage.
President Kenyatta said Kenya will not succumb to threats and that it will continue encouraging coexistence amongst its citizens.
“We are not going to close our society, we appreciate our diversity despite the tragedy that befell us,” said the President.
He said the recent terror attack on Kenya is an isolated case and that all nations are facing similar challenge.
“We will not change our plans rather we will continue with what we are doing. There is no need to issue travel advisories, you scare people by issuing them and thereby fall into the trap of the enemies,” he added.
The President urged western nations to always consult deeply before issuing travel advisories so as to understand the kind of negative impact that can be caused by those actions.
“Sometimes these advisories are put without much consideration, when you issue advisories you create fear and despondency,” said the President.
Dr. Rifai said the tourism sector needs to be exploited more to ensure the full potential of the sector is achieved so as to create jobs, drive inclusive growth and foster development .
He called on the Government to encourage more local tourist’s activities apart from having joint regional ventures that promote the sector.
“It must also be understood that a visitor cannot enjoy a country if it is not enjoyed first by its own people ,that is local people have to sample and enjoy their culture before foreigners can be attracted to it,” said Dr. Rifai.
He said the World Tourism Organization will support Kenya in its endeavours to nurture the tourism sector as a driver of economic growth and inclusive development.
President Kenyatta thanked the UNWTO for its support saying already some of the East African Community member states have undertaken joint ventures to promote and woe more tourists in the region.
“We have a common tourist’s visa between, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, very soon we hope to see Tanzania and Burundi coming on board,” said the President.
Present were the Cabinet Secretary for East Africa, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie and Kenya Tourism Board Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa.