Leaders from Kenya Kwanza government have urged opposition leader Raila Odinga to call off weekly demonstrations, saying if not stopped they will hurt the tourism sector.
Led by Tourism CS Peninah Malonzo, Narok Governor Patrick ole Ntutu and three MPs, they said the effects of demonstrations are being felt as some tourists have cancelled their bookings.
They spoke during the launch of the Narok County Physical and Land Use Spatial Plan, the Greater Mara Ecosystem Management Plan and the Maasai Mara National Reserve Management Plan in Sekenani, Narok county, on Thursday.
In attendance were Environment CS Soipan Tuya, PSs John Ololtuaa (Tourism), Ummi Bashir (Culture), Silvia Museiya (Wildlife), Kajiado Senator Lenku Seki, Narok Deputy Governor Tamalinye Koech, MPs Julius Sunkuli (Kilgoris), Kitilai ole Ntutu (Narok South), Ken Aramat (Narok East) and David ole Sankok (EALA).
Malonzo said her ministry has been hit hard by the protests, with most international visitors opting not to travel to Kenya.
“We are losing a lot of money in foreign earnings as the demonstrations keep tourists away from visiting our country,” the CS said.
Malonzo urged the opposition to rethink their stands as most people are still recovering from the effects of Covid-19.
Ntutu said it was unfortunate that some tourists have cancelled their visits to Maasai Mara.
“The continuous protests by the opposition will cause international visitors to avoid our country due to frequent protests by people who are pursuing their own interests,” he said.
The governor urged the opposition to look for ways to raise grievances instead of subjecting Kenyans to unnecessary tensions.
Soipan gave the issue a wide berth and instead warned those continuing to encroach on Mau Forest, saying their days are numbered.
She said the government is committed to ensuring all forests are protected and preserved.
Ololtuaa said they are committed to improving the tourism sector and have put in place plans to market the nation so that more international visitors can continue to visit the country.
Museiya said the government will soon start disbursing Sh1 billion as compensation to victims of human-wildlife conflict across the country.
Seki said the Wildlife Act should be reviewed so that counties hosting wild animals benefit from the resources.
“There is nowhere counties are mentioned in the Wildlife Act and that should be looked into because they play a greater role in it,” Seki said.
Sunkuli said the Maasai people are the custodians of the park and the wildlife and they should benefit from these resources.
Kitilai urged the government to show willingness by supporting the Maasai community because most tourism activities, which amount to 70 per cent are done in their regions.
Source: The Star