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Tourism stakeholders urged to embrace innovation to reinvigorate the sector 

The cabinet secretary, Ministry of Tourism, wildlife, and Heritage, Peninah Malonza has assured tourism stakeholders that the government is committed to extending certitude support and partnerships with the industry to nurture a steadily growing tourism ecosystem.

She guaranteed that the Ministry is working to ensure the sector embraces the diversity that supports independent and affordable travel to increase the number of visitors in the country.

Speaking during the 19th Annual Hotel Keepers Symposium organized by the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers, (KAHC) Malonza applauded Kenyans that rose to the occasion and made domestic tourism thrive when the country suffered a severe blow from the Covid-19 pandemic.

This, she said, displayed unwavering resilience and determination.

“To strengthen the sector, we must embrace innovation and aim to increase bed nights and tourism numbers for domestic and international visitors,” Malonza said.

She noted that revitalizing tourism requires a multifaceted approach that looks into renewing commitment to sustainability, innovation and the well-being of the visitors“First and foremost, we must invest in refurbishing our establishments to maintain and refresh our unmatched national brand,” Malonza said.

Secondly, she said that there is need to upgrade facilities, expand connectivity, provide affordable transport and accommodation, and also introduce new and exciting products that enhance the overall visitor experience and position Kenya as a premier destination.

Diversifying tourism offerings and investing in capacity building and skills development are hoped to help the sector to adapt swiftly to disruptions and attract a broader range of visitors.

“As we recover from the effects of COVID-19, resilience is equally essential, identifying potential risks, establishing robust contingency plans and fostering effective collaboration between the public and private sectors is vital,” Malonza emphasized.

She noted that efforts must go beyond bricks and mortar by embracing sustainability as a core principle.

“Protecting and preserving our wildlife, cultural heritage and diverse ecosystems should be our responsibility as a sector,” she urged.

She cautioned that the sector should also be prepared to deal with thorny issues that affect tourism like the case of Beach Boys.

“I believe we can organize them and then offer them training that will make them independent and they will be able to earn a decent livelihood, making it a win-win situation for everyone in the sector,” the CS said.

“There is also a need to build capacity and train our staff to enable them to be at par with current global tourism trends, by investing in our workforce and empowering them with knowledge and skills, we increase Kenya’s competitive advantage as a tourism destination,” she added.

Continuous training, mentorship programs, and initiatives that promote entrepreneurship will elevate tourism professionals and ensure they stay in tune with global trends.

Innovation is the key to unlocking the potential of the tourism industry in a rapidly changing world.

 “The road to rebuilding our tourism industry is not an easy one, but it is a journey we must undertake together. Let us renew our commitment to sustainability, embrace innovation, and collaborate wisely. With innovation and resilience as our guiding principles, we will rebuild tourism in Kenya,” she concluded

By Fatuma Said

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