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The County Tourism Bill 2019 is premature, says tourism stakeholders

The  Ministry  of  Tourism  and  Wildlife in conjunction with tourism stakeholders have urged the Senate not to pass the County  Tourism Bill  2019, until pending issues are resolved.

The  Ministry, the tourism private sector and other stakeholders said the bill should be enacted after key issues have been  addressed.

Speaking  during  a  Public Participation meeting to deliberate on the County Tourism Bill in Nairobi, Tourism Regulatory  Authority (TRA) Director General, Kipkorir Lagat  said the enactment of the Bill will greatly destabilize Kenya as a   tourist destination and negate the efforts made in the management of the tourism sector.

He  noted that the Bill mandated the licensing procedures and issuing of licenses to the County Executive Committee (CEC)  in a manner that is way beyond the licensing mandate of TRA which he said if passed may affect the standards of tourism in  the counties.

“The major  overriding  factor  is  standards. The issue of licensing fee comes in where minimum standards are strictly followed and TRA is responsible for issuing licenses,” he stressed.

At  the  same  time, he  stated  that currently the public and private stakeholders have no common understanding of the  national and local tourism, a situation that poses serious policy and legal challenges in the management of tourism  and  hospitality in the county.

In  his remarks, the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers CEO, Mike  Macharia  said if the bill is passed it will  create a multiplicity of tourism standards in the tourism sector, making each county setting up its own tourism standards.

He added that the multiple standards will affect the uniformity thereby reducing Kenya’s competitiveness in the global tourism sector.

“We’ll  lose uniformity in terms of having common tourism standards as a country which will make Kenya very uncompetitive hence affecting the rate of investments by the stakeholders in the tourism sector,” he noted.

The  CEO said the senate did not follow the right procedures for amending the Tourism Act 2011 as there was a conflict  in the bill between local tourism roles outlined by the county governments and the tourism roles in the Tourism  Act 2011.

“The Bill  would open a door for the county governments to exploit tourism investors through introduction of extra levies  to raise revenue for the counties,” he added.

The  Ecotourism CEO, Grace  Nderitu  said  that  the  bill is taking up the powers of existing government agencies that  are  mandated by law to develop the tourism market and promote Kenya as a tourism destination.

She  added that the Bill has not addressed the issue of compensation to land owners whose property could be used for  tourism purposes.

The  ministry  together  with  the various stakeholders urged the Senate to look into section 1, 4, 12, 15 and 16 of the  County Tourism Bill 2019 and clearly define what local tourism is in Section 1 and also look into the role of CECs as  highlighted in Section 6 to Section 15.

By  Philly Opere/ Ian Munjuga

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