BY MWAKWAYA RAYMOND MWAKWAYA
Kilifi North MP Owen Baya has criticised the Tourism cabinet secretary Najib Balala of overlooking other tourism destinations when it comes to marketing the country in the industry abroad.
In a scathing attack, the lawmaker claims the CS is favouring more the Mombasa County than any other coastal destinations in its marketing strategies to revamp the collapsed sector.
The MP is bitter that Mr Balala has failed to initiate sound measures that would see tourism resources within Kilifi County reclaim their lost glories such as Malindi and Kilifi town.
“Malindi used to be a beehive of tourism activities but now it’s a pale of shadow of itself. However, our brother (Balala) is only concentrating in Mombasa while Malindi and Kilifi are in the blinds,” he alleged.
Mr Baya, speaking in a function attended by Governor Amason Kingi in Malindi on August 22, 2019, asked the CS to market other tourism resources with the potential of raking millions of foreign exchange.
According to him although the county governments have the responsibility of undertaking the domestic marketing the international beat lies solely in the hands of the national government.
Due to this, Mr Baya says he will sponsor a motion in the National Assembly to petition the Tourism secretary to set up clear strategic plans of marketing Malindi and its environs as tourist destinations.
Claiming the town has over Sh10 trillion resources (not explained) left to waste, the MP accuses the CS of engaging in issues that do not fall under his jurisdiction.
“How do you stop the construction of a 61 storey building in Watamu which will churn out billions of shillings, create job opportunities and avert poverty?” he poses.
He questioned under which mandate Mr Balala, who is not the Environment CS, used to stop the construction of the million-dollar mega-investment.
But skirting the issue, the governor outlined what the county is doing to restore the lost glory of Malindi as a tourist attraction spot.
He mentioned the construction of an international airport that will allow direct flights from Europe to Malindi.
“Changing flights to tourists is very cumbersome process that forces many to prefer travelling to Zanzibar where there are direct flights in lieu of here (Malindi),” he notes.
Though the government has made a lot of efforts to have flights connect several cities before landing to Malindi, he adds this is not enough to pour tourists as it used to be before the slump.
“Direct flights to Malindi are the answer to revamping the industry because we are losing many tourists being ferried from the Moi International Airport by road to here due to road accidents,” he says.
The governor discloses that he has taken several county officers overseas to learn and benchmark on the tourism sector in South Africa and Europe.
His legacy, according to him is to revive the industry when his term ends as a governor to the levels of the 90s where Malindi was infested by tourists in every corner of the town.
To beautify the town, Mr Kingi says the County has received Sh700 million from the United Kingdom government and Sh700 from World Bank for water and sanitation systems.
Already, the rehabilitation of roads has started and the recarpeting of the beach roads that will run all the way from Bontwwni to Marine park.
Apart from this, the governor challenges Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to work closely with his government to ensure tourism is fully revived in the county.
Efforts by The COAST Newspaper to get comments from Mr Balala hit a snag after all his phones went unanswered for the part of the day.