Budget cuts would hurt tourism, says KTF


Published on 11/06/2009

By Macharia Kamau

The Tourism Ministry has asked for a 69 per cent increase in the money allocated to sector’s marketing arm, Kenya Tourist Board (KTB).

All signs are however that this may not happen, and instead of the proposed increment, the industry expects a cut in the budget for the sector’s marketing arm by 69 per cent.

“We do not have a long wish list; all we had asked of the Government is an increase in the money allocated for marketing the country as a tourist destination,” said Ms Agatha Juma chief executive officer Kenya Tourism Fund (KTF) —the industry’s private sector umbrella body.

“Tourism is a productive sector rather than consumptive and every shilling that is used in marketing brings another Sh130 to the economy.”

She said the industry had been realistic given the tough economic times and the need by government to increase its revenue base.

“We know that we cannot get too much and so we have asked the Government for the bare minimum—money for marketing,” said Juma.

Juma said a cut in the marketing budget would be ‘disastrous’ for the sector that is yet to recover from the crippling blows dealt last year by the post poll chaos and the global financial crisis. The industry started being affected by the latter just as it was starting to recover from the effects of the post election violence.

The sector’s earning went down 20 per cent to Sh52.7 billion from a high of Sh64.5 billion in 2007. International arrivals dropped from 1.8 million in 2007 to 1.2 million.

Visitor confidence

Tourism sector players have in the past said the Government should reinvest five per cent of the sector’s earnings in marketing Kenya to grow the sector.

KTB received a total of Sh1.1 billion from Treasury last year and Sh800 million during the initial months of the year to reassure the source markets following the post poll crisis.

Other than the marketing budget, Tourism Minister Najib Balala recently said his ministry had made proposals to Finance Ministry to consider giving tax breaks to international investors in the hotel industry. At a past interview, Balala said this would give incentives to big brands to invest in Kenya. Having global hotel brands in Kenya, he said, would boost the country’s image abroad as well as increase visitor confidence.

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