Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Alfred Mutua has launched activities that could revive the tourism industry to contribute immensely to the national economy.

Dr Mutua is spearheading a countrywide campaign dubbed “Utalii Fresh,” a strategic roadmap that seeks to uncover Kenya’s hidden tourism treasures and move the sector to the next level.

Speaking in Kwale County, the CS says his ministry is collaborating with the 47 devolved governments in the development of their rich tourism destinations and potentials.

Dr Mutua says his ministry is determined to revitalise the country’s tourism industry by investing in critical infrastructure like access roads, installing solar lighting along the beaches and strategic marketing to attract high spending tourists.

He says the campaign seeks to turn the tourism potentials in the counties into reality and promote tourism as a major foreign exchange earner and create jobs.

The CS was in Kwale County for his #UtaliiFresh county tours and announced that his visits will explore potential collaborations and partnerships to ensure that counties benefit from tourism opportunities.

He noted that Kenya has a strong comparative advantage in the hospitality and tourism sector because of its diverse cultural heritage.

CS Mutua termed the #UtaliiFresh campaign as a recipe for reviving sustainable and responsible tourism and repositioning it as a key sector in the national economy.

He says his vision is to unlock the untapped tourism potential of every corner of the country and take development to the grassroots.

“All around the world tourism plays an important role in the preservation and promotion of culture and heritage,” he said, adding that efforts would be made to ensure heritage sites and monuments throughout the country are preserved.

The CS accompanied by Governor Fatuma Achani visited a number of sites that the county intends to develop into attractive tourists’ sites in Diani.

Diani beach is the preferred holiday destination for both domestic and foreign tourists and each year it receives a record number of holidaymakers arriving to savour its beautiful scenery.

The resort town of Diani with its clear blue water and white sandy beaches have seen the South Coast town voted the best destination beach in Africa for six years in a row by the World Travel Awards.

The minister also held talks with tourism stakeholders and investors who presented their views on the challenges and opportunities in the tour, travel and hospitality sector.

Dr Mutua is asking the county governments to develop cultural experiences that would not only attract tourists but also benefit local economies and empower communities.

The Tourism CS says he has agreed with the Kwale County leadership on several initiatives aimed at enhancing the coastal county’s tourism sector.

“Key commitments include supporting the rehabilitation of the Diani tourist market and the construction of the Kwale Heritage and Convention Centre,” he said.

He also announced the establishment of a modern recreation facility along the historic Kongo beach blending preservation of the area’s history with contemporary amenities.

Dr Mutua says Kongo Beach is renowned for its potential in Halal (Shariah compliant) Tourism development and noted that the government sees a potential market of foreign Muslim travelers, especially from the Middle East.

He says the national government has set its eyes on the Arabian travel markets as an important growth area for the coastal counties of Mombasa, Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu tourism sector.

Mutua said the government will take steps to get a slice of the growing Muslim tourism market by participating in the Arabian Travel Markets.

He said Muslim customers from the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Oman, Iran and Turkey specifically look for tour packages that can guarantee them to perform prayer five times a day during travel.

Mutua also noted that in terms of food, they demand products that only use halal materials and are processed in compliance with Islamic rules.

Governor Achani says the devolved unit will set up a state-of-the-art conference facility in Diani and has already allocated Sh 40 million for the development of the necessary public services and utilities.

“Our discussions focused on strategies on possible partnership areas between the Kwale County government and the ministry of tourism to grow and bolster the tourism numbers in our county,” she said.

She says the national government needs to partner with devolved governments and other stakeholders if the tourism industry is to be properly harnessed.

The coastal county boss says Kwale will reposition itself as a top Halal friendly destination as the hospitality industry already has outstanding halal tourism infrastructure to cater for the Muslim travelers.

“As a Muslim it’s important to ensure that your travel arrangements including food and accommodation are Halal especially if you intend on travelling during the Muslim holiday seasons,” she said.

She urged stakeholders to offer tour packages with extended services such as allocating times for praying in the itinerary of Muslim tourists and offering halal food.

Source: Kenya News

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