Kenya Needs An Inclusive Tourism Approach

indexAnyone would love to spend their holidays and vacations in a safe and peaceful place. After saving for some time and preparing for quite a while for a holiday abroad, I would expect nothing less than a perfect ambient environment for my relaxation. When my tourism destination cannot provide that, blame me not for packing and going back to my safe home country.

But Kenya is not unsafe, if anything Kenya is one of the safest places in the world to live in and do business. Unlike many countries globally where civil struggle is the norm day to day, here we tend to have a calm business environment albeit marred with deep corruption. Then why do we have tourist’s running back to their countries over a weekend resulting to thousands losing jobs and businesses closing at the coast?

The reason is more of political than terror related. The tourists were given travel advisories by their home countries and some even evacuated their citizens in a rush meant to portray a very serious security scare in Kenya. If Kenya was unsafe as the travel advisories tend to depict, then I think half of Kenyans could be dead by now from terrorist attacks. But on the contrary, we are strong and pushing on with our businesses every day. So why do the big brothers of ours from the West keep on harassing us with travel advisories and tourist evacuations?

The big brothers are who they are, big brothers. As big brothers, they obviously were born before us and they have much experience in international economics and multinational trade dynamics. They understand that tourism contributes a big deal to Kenya’s GDP and if it is tampered with, things get hot at all levels of political power. When we decided to go East and in an open manner decided to trash our big brothers from the West, they knew exactly the button to press to bring us back to our senses. Though they smile at our faces as they give diplomatic press releases as to why they do what they do, the true reason why they do what they do is to push us to the edge and make us realize that we are operating in a global village.

No man is an island just like no country can exist in isolation. Even Putin’s assertions this week that Russia will thrive on its own are laughable. The imagesKenyan government needs to realize that we are much better when we embrace both the West and the East than when we trash our old comrades from the West for new allies from the East. Why did other countries from other parts of the world not issue the stern travel advisories as did the West? We need to be more inclusive in our geo-politics and avoid the economic impacts that result from such misguided attempts to run away from the large sources of our foreign exchange.

Kenya’s goal should be going to both East and West not forgetting that the South also exists, and Africa is a large market by itself too. Tourism can be revived when we look in all directions not focusing so much on one alternative while losing on other numerous opportunities. In the meantime, the government should be thinking of ways of diversifying the Kenyan economy and reduce the dependence on tourism which can have catastrophic economic shock effects when it dips.

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