Kenya has rolled out a special tourism service vehicle licence (TSV), effectively shutting public service vehicle operators, who usually convert their vehicles into tour vans during tourism peak seasons, out of the business.
In efforts to streamline operations in the tourism sector, which is often invaded by PSV operators, the government has launched specific stickers in line with the National Transport and Safety Authority Act, 2012.
The law provides for a separate and distinct tour operator’s licence.
Tour business operators have praised it as the best way of weeding out unscrupulous operators. With this licence, Kenya has set the benchmark for other East African countries, particularly Uganda and Rwanda, with whom it is conducting joint marketing initiatives to position the region as the ideal tourist destination.
“The licence will help streamline the sector, promote professionalism and create a level
The government will reign in on unscrupulous and unlicensed tour operators who were giving undue competition to genuine businessmen in the tourism sector.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Acting Chief Executive Officer Jacinta Nzioka said the board will engage with other relevant government agencies and regulatory bodies in the sector to stamp out the menace.
She made the remarks in a statement read on her behalf by KTB Domestic Assistant Regional Marketing Manager Alphose Munguti during a one-day training workshop of domestic tourism sales agents in Diani over the weekend.
KTB has launched a one-month long training for domestic tourism sales agents across the country with over 500 operators benefiting in Kilifi, Mombasa and Kwale counties.
Other government agencies including Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS), Kenya Utalii College, Tourism Fund, Tourism Regulatory Authority and National Museums of Kenya are supporting the training.
The training aimed at sensitizing the agents on the potential the domestic market had in the growth of the tourism is set for Kisumu, Nakuru and Meru before the launch of phase two in other regions that have not been covered.
Over 1.2 million Kenyans afford air transport
According Ipsos Synovate in a research commissioned by KTB, over 10 million Kenyans are in middle-class status with their spending power ranging from shillings 24,000 to 120,000 shillings per month.
Further, over 1.2 million Kenyans are potential air travelers, adding to the potential of domestic travelling across the country.
Nzioka noted that domestic tourism has grown remarkably in the recent past contributing 56% of total bed nights occupancy.
“This market is resilient and reliable in cushioning the sector during hard times and that is why we have began sensitizing those who are selling domestic tours to take up this opportunity,” said Nzioka.
During the training in the coastal region, the sales agents lamented that ‘brief case’ tourism operators we operating without licenses, giving cheap tour packages to travelers since they were not paying government taxes.
A trainer took through participants during a one-day training in Mombasa
Led by Susanne Ndoli of Monika Tours and Safaris, the operators pointed out that cases of tourists being conned out of their money by rogue operators have been reported in the past.
“Besides giving us undue competition by evading taxes, the reputation of our destination is at risk, if the unlicensed operators continue to operate unchecked,” added Ndoli.
Domestic Tourism Association chairperson Stacy Wakesho called on the sales agents to register with relevant associations as a platform to champion their interest in the sector.
The agents mostly beach operators, curio operators and safari sellers also appealed for more hospitality refresher courses by Kenya Utalii College to improve their service delivery.