Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – May 2014

Posted on May 13th, 2014
Categories: News






If Richard Corcoran’s letter taught me one thing, it was that communication is without doubt the most important single factor to resolution of any kind, anywhere in this world of ours. I state the obvious.

But why are we human beings so bad at it?

Communication (from Latin commūnicāre, meaning “to share”) is the activity of conveying information through the exchange of thoughts, messages, or information, as by speech, visuals, signals, written, or behaviour. It is the meaningful exchange of information between two or more living creatures.

In Richard’s letter he talks of the frustrations as seen from the private sector on the state of play in Kenya’s tourism industry. The industry responds massively in support of all he says. Government is not best pleased. They have a plan, which they have not communicated to anyone outside of government.

This all unfolds as Richard’s letter goes viral. So what’s the plan then?

HE President Uhuru Kenyatta in January this year, constituted a Tourism Advisory Board (TAB) mandated to come up with solutions to stem the tide and turn the industry around. If I recall correctly, they were given two weeks to do this.

TAB was mostly made up of bureaucrats, with a few private sector players, but mostly in their roles of Association heads.

I have the report, called the ‘Tourism Recovery & Re-Branding Proposal’ dated 27th February 2014. It makes compelling reading – well maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but what it does is address a lot of Richard’s and the tourism industry’s concerns.

From this document, I can assume, came a welcome announcement from the Cabinet Secretary Tourism that government has a ten-point plan to revitalize the tourism industry, most of which I don’t have a problem with. What I have a problem with is the timeline – 2-3 months – and where they are going to spend their marketing budget. The traditional source markets seem to have been ignored, with Rwanda, Ethiopia, Ghana and South Africa the new tomorrow. What are they on?

So, we have no communication, then a lot of communication – and then a response, which, in itself is a communication. Things are looking up, you’ll agree. But a lot more communication is still needed to get this right and the lobby group that was formed, as a direct result of Richard’s letter, is a good place for government to start.

Something else that came out loud and clear was for all parties to work together for the common good. Kenya’s…

All the above said, if you go out in the woods today, you’re in for a big surprise. Our parks are all looking magnificent, verdant, with fantastic wildlife viewing; there is no better time to be in Kenya than right now.

Amongst the doom and gloom you find, with a little spadework, great stories of regeneration in Kenya’s tourism industry. On Diani Beach the Indian Ocean Beach Club is opening up again; Pride Inns has bought the former Paradise Beach Hotel in Shanzu and is spending a fortune refurbishing it. The Residence also on Diani is a new multi-million pound development.

The list might go on – I’m sure it does – but no one is telling. Hello, communicate…

I do go on.

Something good is also happening in Narok County. I’ve been invited to a mega-meeting in the Masai Mara in early May to be attended by the good and the great of all things tourism and beyond; Government at all levels, the private sector, communities and more.

What’s it all about, I ask?

I’m not sworn to secrecy, but I’m not told much. The big goal appears to be to reduce the impact on wildlife in the National Reserve and if I read it correctly in all of Narok County.

This would apply for all Conservancies and the flotsam and jetsam that surround the reserve.

Reducing the impact are nice words for sure, but how will they do it? Fewer vehicles are one thought, but how do you accomplish that? All camps and lodges in the County will require a full set of approvals, before they can operate. There are lots both big and small that apparently fall into this category.

My first obvious question was, with fewer camps and vehicles (therefore tourists), how would this impact on park fees in the greater Mara? They have a plan, which importantly does not see any increase in park fees. Back to pre-VAT days, it is suggested. I think the plan is for a ten-month Mara season – marketing the reserve not only for its Great Migration as is done now – hello July and August, but promoting the attractiveness of other times of the year in a de-stressed environment, conducive to game viewing and interaction with the Communities of Narok County.

Exciting times indeed. All started with a little bit of communication.


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