SECTORAL GROWTH

Balala confident on tourism as Nairobi hosts Magical Kenya

Tourism CS Najib Balala has projected a 10 per cent growth this year as the October-December high season unfolds.

In Summary
  • Key markets expected to drive this year’s growth include the US, UK, India, Germany and China. Key regional markets remain Uganda and Tanzania.
  • The ninth Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) by Kenya Tourism Board, being held at KICC, has attracted business people from 50 countries across the world.
Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala officially opens the 2019 Magical Kenya Travel Expo at the KICC on October 2. He is flanked by Tourism PS Joe Okudo (left), CAS Joseph Boinet (second left) KTB CEO Betty Radier, Wildlife PS Fred Sigor and KTB chairman Jimi Kariuki(right)/COURTESY
Tourism and Wildlife CS Najib Balala officially opens the 2019 Magical Kenya Travel Expo at the KICC on October 2. He is flanked by Tourism PS Joe Okudo (left), CAS Joseph Boinet (second left) KTB CEO Betty Radier, Wildlife PS Fred Sigor and KTB chairman Jimi Kariuki(right)/COURTESY

Tourism CS Najib Balala has expressed confidence of a 10 per cent growth in international arrivals this year, buoyed by a strong performance in the second half of the year.

The CS who  yesterday officially opened the ninth Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) said the industry has shown positive growth in the second half, after suffering a slight drop in the first half of 2019, occasioned by the terrorist attack at DusitD2 hotel in Nairobi.

"January, February, March was low, we had a minus 0.5 per cent growth because of Dusit (DustD2). We have however overcome Dusit , there was a progressive increase in April, May June and also we have seen progressive increase in July, August, September," Balala said.

Speaking at the Kenyatta International Convention Center (KICC), the venue for this year’s MKTE, Balala expressed confidence the numbers will grow as the high season (October-December) unfolds.

“Our best time is this coming months, the last quarter of the year, so we are optimistic we will achieve a 10 per cent growth,” the CS said.

Balala's 10 per cent projection now places this year's expected arrivals at about 2.2 million up from 2,025,206 reported in 2018, the highest ever number of arrivals in the country's tourism history.

Key markets expected to drive this year’s growth, the CS said, include the US, UK, India, Germany and China. Key regional markets remain Uganda and Tanzania.

Total arrivals as of August stood at 1.3 million (1,341,021), official government data seen by the Star shows.

“The potential that we have not captured yet is two destinations which are critical which is India and China  where populations are high,” Balala noted, saying he will be leading focused campaigns both in India and China to attract more visitors to Kenya.

“By 2022, India will have 50 million people travelling out of the country, already China has 200 million people travelling out. We want to target these numbers in the course of the next six months,” he said.

This year’s MKTE has attracted 139 new buyers from across the world , with the expo remaining the largest travel forum in the region. Business people from 50 countries across the world are attending.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), the host of the expo, said the number is an indication of growing interest on destination Kenya.

“The new buyers who will be present in this year’s event show a clear indication that the expo has been making a big impact in selling the magical Kenya destination, it shows that the hosted buyers from the previous events have been pushing the destination worldwide hence the big interest, this is one of the main purpose of this forum” said KTB CEO Betty Radier.