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Tourism players oppose Balala bid to merge lobbies

Cabinet secretary for tourism Najib Balala together with Kwale county tourism executive Antony Mwamunga. PHOTO | LABAN WALONGA | NMG
Cabinet secretary for tourism Najib Balala (left) and Kwale county tourism executive Antony Mwamunga. PHOTO | LABAN WALONGA | NMG 

A section of tourism stakeholders has rejected a government proposal to dissolve all tourism associations and merge them into one representative body.

Last week, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala had suggested that the sector's players establish one lobby to represent the interests of those in the private sector rather than having many associations.

He said having one body would strengthen their voice and and better help them push their agenda.

“It will be easier for me to hold negotiations with officials of one tourism umbrella body rather than officials from 24 tourism associations,” Mr Balala had said.

Room for pluralism

However, the Tourism Professional Association (TPA) has come out to oppose the bid saying the law supports formation of regional associations to represent interests of various players.

“The Tourism Cabinet Secretary’s suggestion is against the TRA (Tourism Regulatory Authority) Act which encourages establishment of regional tourism associations,” TPA interim secretary Sam Ikwaye said Monday, adding that the different associations represent different interests.

Mr Ikwaye also says devolution had further segmented the goals of different tourism organisations in the 47 counties.

“There is no way we can dissolve the tourism associations to form one association as the interests of hoteliers are different from those of tour operators or travel agents,” he added, citing the Kenya Coast Tourism Association for tourism players and the Kenya Association of Tour Operators for tour operators.

Currently, there are more than 40 associations representing the interests of different investors in the industry.

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