Kenya: Restructuring of Tourism Firms to Revamp Sector

Parastatals under Kenya's Tourism Ministry are set to be restructured, as the government seeks to reverse years of slowed revenues and tourist numbers.

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said new board members with "fresh blood and innovative ideas" will be deployed to the parastatals.

Parastatals under the ministry include the Kenya Tourism Board, Tourism Finance Corporation, Kenya Utalii College, Bomas of Kenya, Kenyatta International Convention Centre, the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation, the Catering and Tourist Development Levy Trustee, and the Hotels and Restaurant Authority.

According to the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC), financing institutions are shying away from lending to the hotel industry due to cash flow problems as tourism struggles to recover.

"Access to credit has been impossible due to lengthy requirements. The government is concentrating on tourist incentives as investors struggle to rehabilitate dilapidated facilities," said Sam Ikwaye, KAHC Coast branch chief executive. The Coast accounts for 60 per cent of all arrivals.

According to Mr Balala, Kenya's tourism industry is working on a hotel refurbishment fund plan that could see hotel owners get access to credit with ease.

"The plan is in the early stages, but we will share the details. There are many old hotels that could be upgraded to modern requirements and attract more tourists, but owners cannot secure financing," said Mr Balala.

Among the old hotels at the Coast is the government-owned Mombasa Beach Hotel, which has not been refurbished for 30 years. The TFC has been unable to fund the refurbishment.

The ministry is also in negotiations with Italian and Poland companies for charter arrangements.

Source: AllAfrica