Tourism industry’s warm welcome for Balala

Najib Balala returned to a warm reception by players in the tourism industry, an industry that was once one of the country’s top foreign currency earners but over the last three years, has been going through a series of tough seasons.

Despite having been the man in charge during the tourism industry’s sunny days, Najib Balala returned to take over the an industry that has been on its knees for the last three years.

For the short period he’s been away, the country’s tourism industry has been hit by a set of challenges, most of them beyond it’s control.

From the fire incident at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in 2013 to the country’s biggest challenge yet – sporadic terror-related attacks that eventually led to travel bans issued against the country by five key tourist source markets – the US, UK, France, Australia and Germany.

And with the travel bans came the loss of jobs as hotels at the coast shut down due to poor numbers.

“I think we need you desperately for tourism, we need to start with the journey today, a lot of us are hurting, welcome back home,” said JS Vohra, a tourism industry player.

By the time of his exit, revenues had reached Sh97.8 billion in 2011 – one of the best years for the tourism industry.

But since then, revenues have been falling gradually, hitting Sh87.1 billion by 2014.

Visitor numbers have also fallen from 1.8 million in 2011 to as low as 70 thousand by august this year.