Tourism congress could be cancelled over Mombasa filth: Balala

Tourism congress could be cancelled over Mombasa filth: Balala

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Mombasa County may lose out on the opportunity to host the 79th Skål International World Congress this year if diseases and the garbage menace are not contained, Tourism CS Najib Balala has said.

Skål is “a professional organisation of tourism leaders around the world, promoting global tourism and friendship”, according to its website.

The congress is scheduled for October 17-21.

Speaking during the National Assembly Committee on Sports, Tourism and Culture induction retreat in Mombasa, he urged the county government to quickly address the disease and sanitation concerns.

“We have to clean up the city of Mombasa before October 17, 2018. We have to address the diseases like chikungunya and cholera. We can’t be having these diseases and expect people to come here. Let’s not play politics.

“I think it is important not to destroy our strategies. These issues are real and must be addressed. Even this conference might be cancelled if we don’t clean this city,” the CS said.

Mr Balala urged the county to make Mombasa clean and disease-free.

Mombasa County has been on the spot over uncollected garbage and poor sanitation, which have been blamed for the emergence of chikungunya, o’nyong’nyong and cholera.

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The Cabinet secretary said he would bring the county on board to help improve tourist attractions and products.

“The products of tourism are in the counties and we are going to partner with the counties to form synergies to establish their regional tourism councils and the national government so that it can be synergies, guidance and progress,” Mr Balala noted.

He urged all counties to ensure cleanliness and improve security so that Kenya’s image as an international destination is not damaged.

“Issues in terms of cleanliness, hygiene, and security we need to address and tackle them in a manner that will not taint our country’s appeal. We need to up our game in terms of infrastructure,” Mr Balala said.

“It is very important to have a coordinated way of promoting and branding this country. We have to make sure the whole country develops holistically. When it comes to the infrastructure, we have to realign with the economic benefits.”

He said the government was keen and serious in making Kenya a leading destination for tourism and had already formed a committee to improve JKIA and an inter-agency council – National Tourism Council – that will realign all government agencies to support tourism.

“Tourism is not about the Coast, Nairobi, Masai Mara alone, it is about the whole country,” Mr Balala said.