Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has said that the Ministry would set up a Tourism Protection Service to provide security to local and foreign tourists.
Balala said despite improved security in the country and lifting of travel advisories by Western and European countries, the tourism sector continued to lose foreign tourists to neighbouring countries due to perceptions of insecurity.
However, he said the sector enjoys domestic support as Kenyans were travelling more and hotels and attraction sites were ever full.
“I wish to reiterate that sometimes it is the perception of insecurity that may be in visitors rather than the actual reality. We have had our share of security challenges as any tourist destination. Thus, my belief is that there is need to address both perceptions and realities of security,” said Balala.
The Cabinet Secretary said the Protection Service would address security concerns and guarantee domestic and foreign tourists a safe stay in Kenya’s attractive tourist destinations.
Balala said the establishment of the Protection Service was informed by the fact that the success or failure of a tourist destination, more than any other economic activity, is determined by the ability to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors.
He said the Service would supplement the National Police Service to support the tourism sector in addressing safety and security issues.
Speaking yesterday at his office while officially receiving a Taskforce report on the establishment of the Tourism Protection Service, Balala said peace, safety and security were fundamental requirements for sustainable tourism development.
He said the Ministry would appoint a standing committee to look at the recommendations by the Taskforce and spearhead the implementation process.
Among other things, the Taskforce Report recommends the establishment of the Tourism Protection Service as a directorate under the Ministry of Tourism. The report also recommends the incorporation of wildlife in the Tourism Ministry to create a new ministry to be known as Tourism and Wildlife.
The Cabinet Secretary appointed the Taskforce whose membership is drawn from private and public sector on 17th October last year. It was chaired by Mr. Ali A. Kaka.
Its members included Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) Director General Kitili Mbathi, Tourist Police Unit Commandant Jostine M. Barmao, G4S Kenya Limited Managing Director Chris Manning, and Advocate of the High Court of Kenya Ferhan Chaudhri.