Scrap biased tourist rule

It is quite unbelievable that Kenyans are being discriminated against in their own country in favour of tourists.

That this is happening some 60 years after Independence is terribly shocking. It is even worse when there is an apparent tacit approval by the authorities.

Tourism is a major foreign exchange earner for the country. This is an industry that creates wealth for the investors and jobs for the locals besides providing a lucrative market for goods and services. The beneficiaries include farmers, traders and transporters.

However, nothing can justify the kind of racial bias that has sparked an uproar in Mombasa that seems to have been officially sanctioned by the Kenya Ports Authority.

It is about a silent policy that allows only foreign tourists to sit in motor vehicles at the Likoni Ferry.

It has reportedly been in use since 2019, and the explanation as to why only the foreigners are exempted from complying with the regulation forbidding commuters on the ferry from sitting in their vehicles is not convincing.

The KPA says this is so that foreign visitors are not delayed in accessing tourist sites and the airport. Local tourists are livid and their complaint is understandable. If the requirement is about safety and security, then, surely, it must apply across the board.

Just the same way the foreigners would be harmed by terrorists or other criminals, so would the locals. All need to access the tourist attractions and the airport efficiently and safely and, of course, the locals are not seeking any favours as they pay equal fees for the use of the tourist facilities at the coast.

During the two-year Covid-19 pandemic when foreign arrivals ceased with international flights cancelled, it was the local travellers who kept the industry alive. While as a major tourist attraction Kenya treasures the foreigners’ contribution to the industry, discriminating against Kenyans in their own country is unacceptable. This biased requirement must be scrapped.