EGH, MP., DURING THE 19 TH SESSION OF THE UNWTO GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN GYEONGJU, REPUBLIC OF KOREA, 8-14 TH OCTOBER 2011 Mr. President, The Secretary General, UNWTO, Dr. Taleb Rifai Deputy Secretary General United Nations, Dr. Asha-Rose Migiro His Royal Highness, Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz bin Saud Colleague Ministers, Ladies and Gentlemen,
BY THE MINISTER FOR TOURISM, KENYA, HON. NAJIB BALALA,
On behalf of the Government of Kenya, I would like to thank the Government of the Republic of and history-rich city of Gyeongju. From first hand experience, we can now attest that Gyeongju
Korea for the warm welcome and hospitality accorded to us since we arrived in this picturesque is indeed ‘a museum without walls.’ Congratulations are quite in order for the meticulous arrangements put in place by the people of the Republic of Korea for this important Session of UNWTO.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the winners of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in particular President Ellen Sirleaf Johnson of Liberia. This comes in the wake of the passing of Prof. Wangari Maathai who trail-blazed for African Women to achieve such accolades. Prof. Maathai leaves as a legacy that we should safeguard in the tourism sector by embracing sustainable development practices. Mr. President,
As a country, we wish to appreciate the support given to Kenya by the UNWTO over the years. Top on our minds is the recent 90th Session of the UNWTO Executive Council that was held in Session will undoubtedly remain with us for many years to come. Mombasa, Kenya in June 2011. This was a great honour to our country and the memories of the
Ladies and Gentlemen
Tourism is a key economic sector in Kenya owing to her diverse attractions including white home of the world renowned Maasai Mara where millions of wildebeests and other mammals spectacles on planet earth.
sandy beaches, unique wildlife, rich cultural heritage and breath-taking scenery. Kenya is the migrate every year between July and October in search of pasture creating one of the greatest
of Kenya as a major vehicle for poverty alleviation and a tool for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Given its significance and capacity for quick gains, tourism was Kenya’s Vision 2030. Over the last three years, the sector has been growing at a tremendous rate of about 15% in average. In 2010, we recorded 1.6 million tourist arrivals and Kshs 73 billion (which is about 1million US dollars) in earnings. This growth mainly emanated from the strategies and stimulus measures diversification initiative that we embarked on. Initially, Kenya was highly dependent on Western Europe and North America as the source markets. We have now made inroads into new markets which include Eastern Europe, Russia, Middle East, Japan and Australia. that we deployed in the wake of 2008/09 economic downturn. Most notable is the market identified as one of the lead sectors to drive economic growth under our economic blue-print,
I wish to underscore that the tourism sector has for years been recognized by the Government
It is our anticipation that 2011 will surpass the figures we recorded in 2010 by about 20%. Were it not for the high energy costs, escalating food prices and resultant inflation, this projection could have been much higher. Mr. President,
A couple of years ago we embarked on the formulation of a comprehensive tourism policy and legal framework. Following intense efforts and widespread consultations with stakeholders from both public and private sectors in the country, we came up with a Tourism Bill. I am happy to announce that, last month, His Excellency the President of Kenya assented to this Bill.
Now we have in place a Tourism Act 2011 that takes into account the current tourism trends and
seeks to address the challenges of the modern day tourism including climate change. The Act Ministry of Tourism and its affiliate institutions to enable us address these challenges.
introduces a paradigm shift in the whole tourism sector in Kenya including restructuring of the
At the regional front, the East African Community countries are making efforts to market East Africa as a single tourism destination. As a region, we have diverse and unique tourism attractions which when packaged and promoted together will enable us achieve economies of scale and competitive edge. We are well aware that this involves a number of challenges such as adoption of a single tourist visa to facilitate ease of tourist movements across the borders; management of resources particularly those of trans-boundary nature.
overcoming protectionism and issues of sovereignty; harmonization if policies and effective
There exist regional blocs which have already achieved milestones in developing and marketing their regions as a single tourism destination such as MERCOSUR. In this respect, we call upon upcoming regional blocs such as EAC. Mr. President Peace and stability is a fundamental requirement for development of tourism around the globe and in our respective countries. As we all aware, armed conflicts do not respect political boundaries and such conflicts normally have far-reaching cross border dynamics. UNWTO to develop models and best practices based on successful case studies to help
The Somalia political instability has become a threat to development in the whole Horn of Africa
and indeed the wider East African region. The situation has not only nipped in the bud the likely manifestation of a vibrant cruise tourism industry along the East Coast of the Indian Ocean but is now affecting tourism in our highly valued tourism resorts.
Kenya is currently grappling with the recent unfortunate events that involved kidnapping of two tourists from Kiwayu and Lamu. Although we have put in place necessary security measures as a Government, resolution of the situation in Somalia calls for a multi-pronged approach and in this
regard I reiterate the need for intervention by the international community. We believe that it is
high time that the international community, through our esteemed institutions and agencies such of mankind.
as UN, stepped in to prevent the situation from escalating into another blight on the conscience
Another challenge we continue to face as long haul destinations is the discriminatory APD (Air
Passenger Duty). This increases the cost of travel which has adverse effects on tourism in again appeal to the UNWTO to intervene in this issue. Mr. President.
developing countries. In turn, this negates our aspiration of achieving MDGs by 2015. I once
this regard, I would like to highly commend him and his entire team for a thorough job done. I believe that I would be speaking for all member states in saying that we are in dire need for a tool that helps us underpin factors influencing tourism demand for our countries as well as enable us make plausible projections. As I had mentioned earlier, we have Kenya Vision 2030 as our economic blueprint which puts tourism at the core.
I have looked at the Secretary General’s report and also paid attention to his presentation. In
with our Kenya Vision 2030 and will come in handy to inform its implementation process in regard
I am happy to note that the UNWTO Towards Vision 2030 is in line
to the tourism sector. With deeper insight into some of the factors determining tourism demand at global, regional and national levels, we will be better armed to navigate around the sometimes murky currents and external shocks that impact tourism negatively. Mr. President,
The White Paper proposes a feasible reform process of the UNWTO to make it more relevant to welcome as tourism has not only become the fastest growing sector but also the most complex distress call by any member state in case of an unexpected challenge as I had earlier alluded to.
members and efficient in addressing the current and future challenges. The document is highly and riddled with numerous challenges. We need a global organization that responds to the first
We also need guidance by the Organization in our individual efforts to deepen the sector so Tourism has indeed become of age. It stands to benefit all people either directly or indirectly important instrument in strengthening the organization and entrenching tourism as a leading global sector.
that the citizens at the grass roots are able to identify with tourism and reap its benefits. and should be positioned as such in the global economy. The White Paper will serve as an
Finally, Mr. President, I would like to observe that the proposed legal instrument on tourist/consumer protection is highly welcome. Tourism involves travelling into unfamiliar member state, we are looking forward to finalization of this document as it will go along way in assuring tourists and help in resolving disputes that may arise in the industry. territories and we therefore need this instrument to enhance the confidence of tourists. As a
share our observations and also congratulate the Secretary General for his encouraging presentation.
With these few remarks I would like to express our gratitude for being given this opportunity to