Create products to increase tourism

Create market specific products to increase tourism gains

In Summary

•CS Najib Balala says Kenya's tourism industry has been highly reliant on the UK and US markets. 

•He says the country now needs to focus on the ballooning Asian market.

REBOUND: Tourism CS Najib Balala
REBOUND: Tourism CS Najib Balala

Kenya needs to adopt country-specific strategies to attract both key and emerging tourist markets and in turn boost the country’s tourism earnings.

Tourism CS Najib Balala yesterday said Kenya, which is marketed as a safari destination is still employing approaches used in the 1960s.

“There is a paradigm shift and it is high time Kenya’s tourism industry evolved to meet current trends,” he said.

Last year was seen as a turnaround point for the tourism and wildlife industry whose earnings hit a record high of Sh157.39 billion driven by international tourist arrivals which surpassed the two million mark.

Data by the World Travel & Tourism Council shows last year, the sector contributed Sh790 billion to Kenya’s economy, a 5.6 per cent growth when all direct, indirect and induced effects were factored in. Jobs created during the review period stood at 1.1 million.

The lobby group for global private sector players in the tourism industry estimates the sector will contribute 5.9 per cent to the country’s GDP this year.

“As the private sector, we see tremendous opportunities in this country. A lot of the CEOs in our organisation are showing interest in Kenya,” WTTC chief executive Gloria Guevara said yesterday while launching its annual report.

According to the council, Kenya’s tourism growth rate is faster than the global average of 3.9 per cent and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3 per cent.

The 2018 Pipeline report released by W Hospitality Group shows about 20 major international hotel brands are lined up to open shop in Kenya over the next five years. This is expected to add 3,444 hotel rooms between now and 2023.

Some of the brands include Best Western Group, with six properties already under construction, one of the hotels in Naivasha and the rest in Nairobi.

Other global brands expanding their Kenyan portfolio are Radisson Hotel Group, Wyndham, CityBlue, Hilton, Marriot, Radisson, Accor, Dusit, Swiss International and Sarovar.

While he welcomed the heightened interest by global tourism stakeholders, Balala said they now needed to expand their reach outside Nairobi, investing in the safari circuit and beach destinations.

“We now need to see these global hotel brands popping up not just in Nairobi but across all 47 counties,” he said.

Swiss International Hotels is set to open its initial property in Mt. Kenya while Wyndham will debut in Amboseli.