The Principal Secretary for Tourism John Ololtua has said the government is committed to strengthening partnerships and close relationships with Uganda to promote tourism.
Ololtua said the government is working to streamline border restrictions to facilitate the smooth movement of tourists between the two countries.
He said the Kenya government has embarked on opening transport infrastructure, upgrading airports and entering into bilateral talks with Uganda geared towards improving trade and tourism activities across their borders.
“We are determined to address the shortcomings arising from our borders as far as security is concerned and travel permits so that our people can travel without problems,” he said.
The PS spoke on Tuesday during a closing remark on the Second day of the Uganda-Kenya tourism conference in Diani, Kwale County.
Ololtua said Uganda remains a key partner in various areas of trade and development.
He said Kenya and Uganda have a long-lasting relationship on matters of trade, agriculture and education among others.
The PS said Kenya recognizes the significance of maintaining good partnerships and will always strive to maintain them for the benefit of citizens and the country at large.
He urged other East African countries to join hands in working together to grow African tourism.“We must work and promote tourism as one because unity is strength,” he said.
Ololtua said working in unity might help address some of the challenges affecting trade across the borders.
The PS also said Kenya is continuing to diversify tourism opportunities to fully exploit the sector.
He said the country has a wide of tourist attraction sites ranging from sports, food, historical monuments, white beaches, cultures and traditions and conferencing facilities which can propel the sector if effectively utilized.
At the same time, he said the government is at the frontline in curbing human-wildlife conflict for the local people to appreciate the role played by wild animals and contribute to tourism.
He said they have a program for compensating affected victims and raising awareness of how the communities can coexist peacefully with the wildlife.
He said the Ugandan government is also committed to improving infrastructure and opening up airlines to enhance tourism.
“The issue of transport affects the operations of tourism and when we have it improved more benefits will emerge,” he said.
Bahinduka called on the private sectors from both countries to support and push for the growth of tourism.
The Ugandan minister stressed the importance of having visa-free borders to facilitate the movement of people for easy business.
Kwale Deputy Governor Chirema Kombo appreciated both the Kenya and Ugandan governments for having such useful conferences.
He, however, put to task stakeholders to ensure issues of security and child abuse are well addressed in their talks.
“As we discuss how to promote tourism, let’s not shy to speak about the negative side of it. Let’s see how we can protect child abuse and insecurities,” he said.
Kombo said the stakeholders must work around the clock to ensure insecurities do not become an issue as tourism booms.
Kilifi Deputy Governor Flora Chibule said the tourism is the global economy since it has the power to create jobs and boost the economy.
She said stakeholders must commit themselves to responsible tourism in all aspects to boost the sector and strengthen cooperation between Uganda and Kenya citizens.
Taita Deputy Governor Christine Kilalo also called the stakeholders to maximize tourism potential between the countries to grow the industry which is full of opportunities.