Tourism licensing is premised on ensuring customer satisfaction and competitiveness of the country as a tourist destination. Thus, all products and services as outlined in the 9th Schedule of Tourism Act, 2011 need to meet customer expectations by maintaining minimum standards. In particular, regulation has a number of benefits which include:
- Bringing order to the sector:Licensing is a deterrent to would-be unscrupulous businessmen since punitive measures are taken against those who contravene laws.
- Ensuring Customer Satisfaction:Tourist handlers are expected to demonstrate high levels of professionalism and integrity. Licensing ensures that only qualified personnel are engaged in the industry.
- Helps Enforce Standards:Overseas suppliers have more confidence in dealing with ground handlers who are not only licensed by the Government but are also members of recognized trade associations. The Associations follow codes of ethic approved by the Authority.
- Compilation of a data base and directory:Licensed operators and businesses will comprise a database and directory that would be instrumental for planning, marketing of the destination and other decision making processes.
Licensing benefits specific to the licensee
The operator with TRA licenses will benefit greatly in that the license will facilitate:-
- Promotion and marketing
- Access to Government incentives e.g. custom duty waivers
- Access to training and capacity building programmes by government agencies.
- Access to Government financing.
- Endorsement for membership to industry associations
The Tourism Act, 2011 and Tourism Regulatory Authority, Regulations 2014 make the following provisions for licensing:
- Section 7(1) (c) requires tourist-related activities and services including cottages and private residences engaged in guest house services to be licensed by TRA.
- Section 98(1) requires any person carrying out a tourism business or service specified in the Ninth Schedule to get a license from TRA;
- Section 19(1) requires TRA licenses to be renewed three months before expiry.
- Section 19(2) stipulates imposition of a penalty of 10% of the license fee for every month’s delay in renewing a license.
- Section 29(1) mandates TRA officers to regularly carry out inspection of tourism facilities and services where non-compliance is suspected or for purposes of granting or renewal of a license.
- Section 112 imposes a fine not exceeding one hundred thousand shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months, or to both for any person contravening this Act.