Kenya, SA sign agreement on tourism co-operation

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Nairobi - Kenyan Tourism Minister Najib Balala and his South African counterpart, Marthinus van Schalkwyk, have signed an agreement on modalities to encourage tourism investment in both countries.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU), which was signed on Tuesday will last for five years, seeks to educate citizens of the two countries in tourism, share information on market trends and exchanges on culture.

"There is an urgent need for African destinations to embrace the phenomenon of co-petition instead of competition," said Minister Balala, who added that in the past, Kenya and South Africa regarded each other as competitors, a trend that was now eliminated, after the signing of the MOU.

He noted that Kenya was recognised as a core market by South Africa. Similarly, South Africa was an important market for Kenya, as the country received about 30 000 tourists annually from South Africa.

Minister van Schalkwyk stated that tourism was an important economic component for both Kenya and South Africa in terms of contribution to Gross Domestic Products (GDP), foreign exchange earnings, employment and poverty alleviation.

He also urged the two countries to not only rely in inter-continental tourism but to instead encourage intra-continental tourism so as to create a positive image of Africa.

The agreement on tourism between Kenya and South Africa reflected the spirit of the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD), which in 2001 identified tourism as an important vehicle to address the current challenge facing the continent.