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