With the global economy in the toilet and the prospects of independent economic recovery looking bleak, the government has decided that it might be a good idea to appeal to foreign tourists. Their exceptional new wheeze is to halve visa fees for tourists, scrapping them for children under the age of 16. Brilliant!
Of course, all of this comes a little too late, especially as the offer expires in December. I don’t know if anyone has told the Tourism Ministry, but those lovely Western tourists who visit consider Kenya to be a long-haul destination. Unlike a weekend visit to Barcelona, or a stag night weekend in Prague, they don’t tend to book their surf-and-safari holidays at the last minute. Some do, but the vast majority have already booked their summer getaways.
This little incentive should have been introduced far earlier, as soon as the coalition government was introduced, for instance. We could then have had some time to market ourselves as an affordable holiday destination offering an extra impetus for families to book their holidays abroad and show that it was business as usual for the country. Instead, in over a year of lost promotion opportunities, the best we can come up with is this sorry excuse for a marketing initiative.
Don’t get me wrong: I realise that times are tough for everybody. But tourism plays such a large role in the economy, it feels almost criminal that efforts to revive the sector are being carried out in such a cack-handed fashion. I’m sure that individual players in the sector are doing their best, but times like these require a collective best effort, and those on the ground are being let down by those at the top.
It is one thing to be thrown by events, and to have to recalibrate a strategy. It is quite another, on the other hand, to fail to take decisive action until it is far too late to influence events. I’m afraid this one is a FAIL for the tourism chiefs.
[Image by Giorgio Montersino]