Tourism stakeholders, to varying degrees, have made their frustration known when the budget estimates for the Mombasa County became known a few days ago, as the previous budget of 200 million Kenya Shillings, already dismissed a year ago as grossly inadequate, was literally halfed to only 106 million Kenya Shillings. Allocation for tourism promotion in fact only include some 41 million Kenya Shillings, prompting legions of comments to reach this correspondent to highlight the double whammy resorts and tourism operators are faced with at the Kenya coast.
‘We had to literally fight them off when they tried to impose huge bed levies on us while our occupancies were already low. Now, occupancies are even lower, many smaller places have closed and instead of investing in the promotion of tourism, into better tourism infrastructure, they cut the budget. It is almost as if they have given up on the sector just like the central government also apparently has. Apart from speeches we hear nothing from them. The tourism recovery task force was here a few months ago and they have handed in their report. Where is the action we were promised? The ferry company deludes itself to talk of a cable car when what we need is the long overdue bypass around from the airport to the south coast. More ferries will only meet the increase in traffic by the time they arrive in 2017 and the waiting queues will remain. Tourist busses must be given priority access without having to pay for it. Where is the second national conference centre we were promised so long ago. But when it comes to collecting taxes they are quick. When it comes to connecting us to proper sewerage lines they are slow like with everything else. This budget from Mombasa county is a slap in our faces’ let a regular Mombasa based source fly and many other comments were of a similar nature, none of them of course daring to go on record and have names named.
A Nairobi based source too ranted off his frustration when he wrote: ‘There will come a time when tourism will have to face the truth. Government on all levels has abandoned us, written us off. We either start pulling together and use our own resources, of the little which is now left but the Mombasa county budget for tourism is totally laughable. It is contemptuous in fact, almost as if mocking the industry. It is like kicking a man who is on the ground already into the head’.
A source close to the county government in Mombasa however turned the topic on its head when blaming the industry of contributing too little in taxes, fees and levies, claiming that the resistance to higher bed levies has left the county with too little money to dedicate to tourism. Well, considering that the Mombasa county’ proposed budget exceeds 10.5 billion Kenya Shillings, not all of that can be true and the response must be dismissed as nothing but a transparent smokescreen, but one which adds insult to injury.
Meanwhile has the New Nyali Residents Association, similar to the South Coast Residents Association SCRA, began to take matter into their own hands when country and central government failed them, as developers had ignored orders not to put up walls on beach side properties.
Hubert Seifert, the association’s secretary, wrote blazing letters to Kenya’s NEMA and the county government after such a seawall recent collapsed which could have caused death or serious injuries to any passer byes.
While at the South Coast the main focus presently is to prevent the dredgers to return and destroy beaches and reefs is it at the North Coast the issue of obstructing public beaches and erecting walls, which, considering the rising sea levels, will be washed away in no time and as and when they collapse become a public safety hazard.
Thanks go to both SCRA and NCRRA for sharing such news and not only keeping the public at large informed but also to rally further support for their worthy causes.