Kenya’s tourism industry is looking up, with the latest activities in the country painting a favorable picture of the sector this year.As a result, hoteliers are eager to capitalise on Kenya’s favourable tourism outlook.
The latest research by W Hospitality reveals that the country’s branded hotel chain pipeline is in Africa’s top ten with 3,453 rooms under development spread over 19 hotels.
This takes place at an exciting moment when the country’s national career Kenya Airways was granted rights to operate direct flights to the US starting this October on the 28th.
“This is an exciting moment for us. It fits within our strategy to attract corporate and high-end tourism traffic from the world to Kenya and Africa. We are honored to contribute to the economic growth of Kenya and East Africa.” said Kenya Airways Group Managing Director and CEO Sebastian Mikosz in a statement.
Industry figures from Kenya’s marketing arm Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) show that tourist arrivals from the US saw a spike by 16.3 per cent to 95,771 between January and October last year up from 82,363 visitors in the same period in 2016.
This year will also be a good year for the industry as Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF), which is the premier hotel investment conference in Africa returns to the country, after a five year absence.
The forum, which attracts, attracting many prominent international hotel owners, investors, financiers, management companies and their advisers, will return to Nairobi on 2-4 October 2018. The event was last hosted by Kenya in 2013.
“Kenya has moved forward tremendously since AHIF was last here in 2013. Major investments in infrastructure are transforming communications and access. That has to be of interest to our delegates and we are very much looking forward to seeing it first-hand.” Jonathan Worsley, Chairman of Bench Events, the forum organisers, said.
According to a statement from AHIF, the day prior will feature investment inspection visits to several development projects around Kenya.
“Kenya has varied and wide-ranging tourism potential and the opportunity to explore some of these investment opportunities before congregating in Nairobi will be one of the highlights of the event programme. The visits will include various projects accessible via the Madaraka Express Train Service – Kenya’s new express railway, which opened in May, 18 months ahead of schedule.” Reads the statement in part.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Hon. Najib Balala, said the event will attract the kind of people who have the influence and resources to make a destination successful.
“I am delighted that we have brought Africa’s highest profile hotel investment forum back to Kenya. At AHIF, we will be making a compelling case for investment in the hospitality sector across Kenya. Nairobi is already the established business hub of East Africa but there is so much more opportunity in our country. For example, Kisumu offers huge potential for new hotel accommodation and the leisure possibilities on our sea coast is self-evident. We also have another vital asset: a population which is innately friendly, hospitable and keen to serve.” Najib Balala said.
The Kenyan government has also announced its plans to introduce a package of measures to incentivise international investment. They will include aggressive incentives to entice land ownership and encourage the development of hotel infrastructure and associated ‘entertainment’ such as restaurants, theme parks and even cruises.
The Managing Director of Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), Jonah T. Orumoi, said after agriculture, Tourism is Kenya’s most important industry.
“We are blessed with fantastic natural tourism resources: spectacular scenery, beautiful beaches and wonderful wildlife, including the opportunity to see ‘the big five’, Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo and Leopard in their natural habitat. But that’s not all; thanks to our air links, Kenya is attracting an increasing number of business events and several major infrastructure projects are driving the whole economy with a consequent demand for new accommodation.” Mr Orumoi noted.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Kenya’s travel & tourism industry is responsible for 15.3% of total exports and 8.9% of total employment. It is also a sector that WTTC predicts will continue to grow at 6% per annum over the coming decade.
In 2017 and 2016, the conference was held in Kigali, where it was attended by around 500 delegates from 41 countries (of which 22 were African), including scores of top executives from the major hospitality companies. Previously, it was held in Addis Ababa and before that Nairobi and Casablanca.
AHIF has also helped showcase high-growth destinations to the hotel investment community.
By moving location every couple of years, AHIF has provided direct economic benefits to various African cities. A recent economic study by Grant Thornton revealed that hosting AHIF brings, on average, a million dollars in direct benefit to the local economy, an additional 1.4 million dollars in indirect benefit and a substantial six-figure sum in tax to the government.