Balala’s formula for meeting goal of three million tourists a year

He was moved from the mining docket to a ministry he once led and recorded noticeable gains in the Kibaki Administration.

While observers and critics are waiting to see what he can do, Business Daily talked with him to assess his first three months in office and what the future holds.

Top on the agenda for most observers is the achieving the goal of growing tourism numbers to three million visitors by 2017 against a backdrop of difficulties linked to security.

The ministry estimates that about 30,000 jobs were lost in the tourism decline tied to a wave of terrorist attacks. The bulk of these are yet to be recovered.

The skydiving minister says this is still attainable over two or three years while his most important agenda is to place the sector on a sustainable recovery path that will return the country to 1.2 million visitors in months.

Mr Balala ties returning the sector to its glory to the private sector playing a leading role.

"You look at the private sector elsewhere, they are the driving force and the work they do is amazing; so, why not have the same thing for tourism if we are able to build their capacity, the industry players will be able to speak in one voice," he says.

The private operators, he said, need to find ways of improving the services within the sector right from luggage collection at the airport to when they get to the hotels and visit other attractions.

"In Singapore, it takes 17 minutes from the minute the plane lands to the minute you reach the taxi station outside the terminal. Why not have the same for Kenya?"

According to the CS, reducing the time tourists take to reach their hotels "avoiding traffic is one of the swiftest ways to create lasting impressions."

Another step is refurbishing hotels to meet the global trends and promise a predictable stream of domestic and international tourists, he said.

The ministry, through the sector regulator, is classifying hotels to create awareness on facilities and services available and the accompanying prices.

For a voice of the industry players on the recovery, the ministry is implementing a task force report.

Redefining who a tourist is, the minister says, and creating a mental shift among players and supporting sectors will be key to the steady growth of numbers of both local and international tourists

Source: businessdailyafrica