Tourism has gone through turbulent times in recent years, necessitating fresh strategies for a turnaround.
There are four interlinked challenges – terrorism, political instability, poor infrastructure and inefficient service delivery.
Fortunately, the sector weathered the storms last year and posted credible results despite a heated political contest, illustrating its resilience.
But challenges still abound and even with improved earnings, we are far below the boom of those halcyon years.
As we reported this week, many hotels and recreational facilities have been grounded at the coast due to low patronage.
Businesses across the chain such as safaris, curio trade and water sports have declined, leading to job losses and increased poverty.
This is the reason we acknowledge the government’s decision to waive tax on furniture imports for hotels to cushion them and help their revival and regeneration. As a major cash earner and key driver of the economy, tourism requires concerted efforts for revamp.
The tax waiver is a pragmatic and desirable intervention.
Even so, other critical challenges must be confronted.
Top on the cards is terrorism that has repeatedly affected the coastal region and created a sense of despondency, scaring off tourists.
Although incidents have gone down in recent times due to an aggressive campaign against Al-Shabaab, the threat remains.
Second, the coast is a hotbed of combative politics that in itself creates tension and undermines hospitality.
Divisive politics pitting locals against the so-called outsiders poses a serious threat to investments and contributes to decline in services.
Equally challenging is the poor infrastructure.
Tourism thrives on efficient transport network that allows visitors to travel from destination to another fast and affordably.
Also, it requires effective services and a conducive environment that gives a better experience and feel for the visitors.
Whereas the government has started on a positive note, other fundamental encumbrances such as insecurity, poor service delivery and infrastructure must be also tackled to assure guests of stability and comfort.