A story published in Tourism Update on May 9 noted a statement made by Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary, Najib Balala at a gathering in Naivasha, where he said that Lake Nakuru National Park had “lost its lustre” and was “dead”, which would adversely affect tourism.

This was reported across a number of publications, including Kenya’s Daily Nation, Kenya’s The Star, and AllAfrica.com, from which TU drew the information and published an article with a headline that we acknowledge was misleading, and for which we sincerely apologise.

TU subsequently contacted local tourism stakeholders, including Mohammed Hersi, Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Federation – the umbrella body for Kenya’s tourism private sector association. Hersi said: “The statement about the state of Lake Nakuru was made by our CS [Cabinet-Secretary of] Tourism, Najib Balala, and unfortunately he was quoted out of context.

“While Lake Nakuru is facing several challenges like any other park, it is far from being declared a dead park. Our minister was trying to communicate the gravity of the matter, and at no time did he say that Lake Nakuru is as good as dead. If Lake Nakuru was indeed dead, it would not be home to over 4 000 buffaloes, rhinos, giraffes, tree-climbing lions, and rich birdlife.”

Sense of Africa East Africa, a tour operator operating in a number of African countries including Kenya, says it is continuing to sell the Lake Nakuru region, and is taking visitors to the park. “Visitors to Lake Nakuru National Park can enjoy the wide ecological diversity and varied habitats within the escarpment and picturesque ridges. The park is recognised as a birdwatcher’s paradise and is ideal for game drives, hiking, picnics and birdwatching,” said Michael Njogu, Managing Director of Sense of Africa East Africa.

Hersi added that the further positive side to the story was that the Tourism Minister had “taken it upon himself to get a special team of scientists and conservationists [together] to address all the issues that are facing Lake Nakuru”. “He is committed and focused to doing what must be done to mitigate any risk that may negatively affect the park. The other good news is that his initiative is time bound, and within 100 days a clear action plan will be put in place.”

Hersi, who is also the Group Director of Operations for Pollman Safaris, concluded: “Pollmans, as a leading inbound tour operator, has not seen any concerns from our international agents, let alone cancellations due to that statement. If anything, we are looking at one of the busiest seasons in Kenya’s tourism [calendar], come the peak period of June to October, and Lake Nakuru is right at the heart of the action – more so for the thousands heading to world-famous Masai Mara.”