The recent launch of Tourism Professional Association (TPA) has cemented relationships between stakeholders in the industry, practitioners, as well as members of academia from various universities and training institutions in the country.
The association has gained support from more than 1,700 practitioners from Nairobi, the Kenya coast, Western, Nakuru and Nyeri.
TPA is currently planning to facilitate the establishment of programmes that will build strong collaborative partnerships between the industry, academia, government and realisation of Tourism Regulatory Authority (TRA) regulations 11 mandate through the association.
Just like any other organisation, TPA has its own challenges with manpower development being one of them.
“We are aware that the level and quality of service offered in the industry has fallen short compared to other competing regional and global destinations,” TPA chairman Killian Lugwe said.
“Training in the industry has traditionally been offered by Utalii college, but some universities and private colleges are also currently offering hospitality training.
“Unfortunately, colleges that also offer hospitality or tourism related training with questionable curriculum are mushrooming up and teachers with wanting qualifications.”
Mr Lugwe urged the government and stakeholders to regulate, upgrade and standardise the hospitality institutions so as to ensure that colleges provide students with relevant training to enable them gain technical and managerial skills.
“Moreover, there has been an increase of both private and public universities and colleges, which unfortunately have varied hospitality curriculum. The gap has contributed to lack of correlations with regard to curriculum, networking, regulatory and harmonisation,” he added.
“Some of the trainees are trained on theory only and get the practice during industrial attachment. They end up being deprived of the necessary skills making it difficult for them to cope with emerging trends in the industry and innovation.”
He went on: “It’s sad to note that most Kenyan certificates are not accredited, and this makes it difficult to cushion local professionals in the sector. This is due to the fact that there has been no accreditation body to-date. The certificates do not indicate expected competences from the graduates.
“The employers may have to either guess on what they are competent in or retrain the new employees even in areas they had already covered. This leads to poor service and affects profitability.”
To attain the main objectives of TPA and enhance relationship between TPA and the Kenya Tourism Federation, the association hopes to establish an accreditation organ in the country for staff within the industry.
During the recent launch of the association and Annual General Meeting, Mr Lugwe was elected as the chairman of TPA, Joy Goopio as vice chairperson, Sam Ikwaye as secretary, Reuben Argut as vice secretary, Damiana Kieti- as treasurer and Kellen Ndii as the vice treasurer.
The officials will focus on improving the current curriculum for it to meet emerging trends and innovations in the industry.
This means all training institutions will be expected to follow given curriculum in some core aspects.