Keynote Address By Hon. Safina Kwekwe Tsungu (CBS), PS For Tourism On The Occasion Of The 45 th Kenya Utalii College Graduation Ceremony Held On 17 th December 2020

The year 2020 has indeed presented severe and unprecedented challenges, not only to Kenya and Africa but globally. Economies, including those of countries regarded as super powers, have been brought to their knees by the Covid-19 pandemic. Consequently, education systems world over have been thrown into an abyss of confusion. Despite these challenges, Kenya Utalii College has successfully moved forward in executing the institution’s mandate of capacity building for the Hospitality and Tourism industry. I sincerely thank the Governing Council, Management, Staff and Students of this hospitality and tourism training institution for this big milestone.

The Tourism Industry is one of the fastest growing economic sectors in Kenya contributing to about 10% of our Gross Domestic Product and boosting the country’s foreign exchange earnings. It’s on this premise that it was imperative the Government put in place interventions to cushion the industry against the Impact of COVID-19 pandemic. That is why the Ministry has gone above and beyond to ensure that we stay afloat by adopting the following measures:
● Through the Economic Stimulus for Hotels Renovation Programme, we
have injected KES 3billion to Tourism Finance Corporation for the Soft
Loans to hotels and related establishments to help restore the sector and
protect the Hospitality players from heavy financial losses. The successful
applicants will receive this support starting January 2021.
● Provided KES 1billion to engage 5,500 community scouts, and KES
1billion for 160 community conservancies. This will support the rangers for
a year to ensure that conservation areas remain secure and tourism
businesses in such areas bounce back to support livelihoods and Kenya’s
● The Government developed the “Magical Kenya Tourism and Travel Health and Safety Protocols for the New Norms to guide the gradual re-
opening of the Tourism Sector”. The protocols have since been
acknowledged and awarded a “Safe Travel” Stamp by the World Travel
and Tourism Council (WTTC).
● The Government developed a post COVID-19 strategy whose overall goal
is to re-engineer destination competitiveness to enhance resilience and
sustainability of destination Kenya.
● In mid-August, the domestic tourism campaign was launched with Eliud
Kipchoge as Magical Kenya ambassador. It is imperative to note that
domestic tourism is set to pick first as locals are more confident in travelling within their own country, before embarking on international travel.

As the tourism Industry rises from the lows occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, safety and quality of services in the tourism and hospitality sector will remain vital to boost and sustain confidence of tourists in the Magical Kenya destination. And that is the opportunity for the Kenya Utalii College to remind the tourism Industry of its relevance to attain the aforementioned.

It’s for this reason that I sincerely congratulate you on behalf of the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife for this 45th Graduation Ceremony. Covid-19 has made it impossible for us all to be physically present, but the provision of a virtual platform through which majority of students and other stakeholders can participate is a clear indication of the Institution’s adaptability to change; a characteristic that is indispensable in our highly dynamic industry.

I applaud the Three Hundred and Eighty-Two (382) students who are today celebrating the successful completion of training at Kenya Utalii College.
I urge all graduands to offer the quality and professional skills acquired at the Kenya Utalii College with passion and dedication. I encourage you to look beyond the current challenges and work towards a bright future in your career as surely brighter days are ahead, notwithstanding the devastating effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Most hotels that had closed down and sent workers home, have now embarked on phased re-opening in adherence to the World Health Organization (WHO) and national Covid-19 Health protocols.

I implore on you to focus on what’s important now, as we look forward to the industry’s bounce back. Our collective effort as Kenyans, coupled with God’s blessings, will help revive the sector which is a major contributor to the nation’s economic development back to its feet. Without a doubt, our country has a lot to offer in terms of recreation and tourists’ attractions, centered on a diverse natural resource endowment complimented by a
rich culture and heritage.

The National Government is partnering with County Governments to develop tourism products at sub national levels throughout the country. I therefore appeal to us all to embrace domestic tourism in order to promote the sector’s growth and development. I take this opportunity to appreciate all stakeholders in the hospitality and tourism sector for their patience, resilience and their quickly adaptation that has resulted in restarting their respective operations within the new normal of safety and health protocols. As is said, “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass; but learning how to dance in the rain and making the best out of what is still around.” The
Government, through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife is committed to providing an enabling environment to hasten the recovery of the industry.

I once more congratulate Kenya Utalii College for competently and diligently playing your role in capacity building, a very crucial ingredient to the success of the Tourism industry. Keep up the good work as we jointly work towards full recovery. I take this early opportunity to wish you happy holidays, a blessed holiday season and please remain safe as you celebrate with family and friends.

God Bless you all and may He Prosper Kenya, our Motherland.

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