The unfolding row between Kenya and the US government over the freezing of military aid will not hurt tourism, a Cabinet minister has said.
Minister Morris Dzoro said yesterday: “The row is over military aid. Even if the US suspends it for good, we will continue with our marketing efforts there.
“This July, we will be travelling to the US on a marketing trip as guests of a group of US businessmen.”
Last year’s tourism profits went up because more American tourists visited the country than in the previous years despite their government’s negative travel advisories, he said.
The US government’s policies, he added, did not necessarily reflect the wishes of its people and his ministry was in talks with ambassador William Bellamy on tourism-related issues.
“We also have a bigger market emerging in the Far East – China and Japan – and even if the worst happens and fewer Americans come, we shall still have a place to lean on,” the minister told a news conference in Mombasa.
Mr Dzoro said it was wrong for the US to bulldoze Kenya into signing a bilateral treaty to sheltering US soldiers from the international war crimes they may commit.
The US has suspended Sh760 million military aid to Kenya because the country has not signed the pact.
Mr Dzoro announced new measures to reduce human-wildlife conflict in Kwale District.
These include moving 400 elephants from the Shimba Hills National Reserve to the northern part of Tsavo National Park and a new electric fence.
The transfer would be carried out between July and September at Sh250 million, the minister said.
“The animals’ translocation aims to improve the Shimba Hills ecosystem that also includes Mkongani forest and the Mwaluganje elephant sanctuary,” said Mr Dzoro.
The transfer is expected to ease a long-running conflict between people and elephants, which often stray into farms and destroy crops and property.
The minister said USAid was willing to support efforts to end conflict.