By James Kariuki
A hospitality lobby group has asked Tourism Secretary Najib Balala to hold regular briefings so as to keep tourist dollars flowing throughout the electioneering period.
Kenya Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohamed Hersi said Mr Balala could boost arrivals by keeping tourists, their embassies and Kenyans updated.
“The Tourism CS must speak with the media often to help allay fears of any security fears that might affect our tourism,” he said.
Mr Hersi, who is also the Heritage Hotels CEO, said Kenya could not afford to reverse gains made in the sector.
“The 1.5 million jinx must be surpassed this time round but we need to engage as a country to embrace peace knowing too well that tourism is a labour intensive enterprise that requires manpower at every level. We need to engage local and international media to clear the air over Kenya’s image,” he said.
The 2007 post-election violence adversely affected the tourism sector, leading to closure of numerous facilities and massive job losses.
Mr Hersi said Kenya had shown resilience in the last three years posting increased arrivals.
According to United Nations World Tourism Association, international visitors earned Kenya Sh100 billion last year.
He said direct flights to Mombasa by foreign airlines would boost tourist arrivals. Only Kenya Airways flies to the Moi International Airport.
“Competition is good for everyone. Our main concern should be to boost tourist arrivals,” said Mr Hersi.