, NEW YORK, United States, Sep 25 – The last few months have been good in turning around the performance of Kenya’s tourism sector.
After hosting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit and the visit by Barrack Obama and the UN World Tourism Organisation meeting in Mombasa, the country is now preparing to host the African Travel Association (ATA) congress attracting 1,500 delegates between November 9 to 14; and that’s just the beginning.
The country is expecting to host Pope Francis and later the World Public Relations congress in the same month.
“As a direct result of these events, people all over the world are seeing Kenya in a new light. They have been able to witness for themselves the warmth of the Kenyan people, they have heard the stories of our rapidly growing economy and they have seen wonderful images of our culture, our heritage and our country that makes us such a wonderful and unique destination for visitors and investors,” Tourism CS Phyllis Kandie said at the 10th Annual Presidential Forum on Tourism at the New York University on Thursday.
The ATA is expected to bring together 250 tourism association members, where Kenya plans to ensure the world understands the country is open for business.
On marketing the country, Kandie explained that the advertisement deal that was suspended with the Cable News Network (CNN) is back on track and is expected to kick off by November.
While acknowledging that tourism is at the centre of every economy worldwide, President Uhuru Kenyatta noted that the sector is no longer the preserve of a few people with the time and resources to travel for leisure.
“Africa as a destination has diverse and rich tourism attractions and is today a renowned tourist brand in the world market. However, in spite of this, Africa continues to receive disproportionate number of tourists in comparison to global tourist numbers,” he said in a speech delivered by CS Amina Mohamed at the New York University.
He pointed out that Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE), investment opportunities and sports will continue to be key tourism attractions within the continent adding to the already renowned beaches, rich history, diverse authentic cultures, scenic beauty and wildlife.
“The United Nations World Tourism Organization forecasts that international arrivals are expected to grow by 3.3 percent annually between 2010 and 2030 to reach 1.8 billion by 2030 It is projected that long haul travel will grow faster at 5.4pc per annum. The African continent needs to re-double their marketing strategies to tap into these increased numbers of international travelers.
President Kenyatta nonetheless admitted that there are a myriad challenges that have affected the growth of tourism in Africa.
“Certainly, successful tourism industry requires political stability, peace and security characterized by dialogue among diverse peoples and groups in the region. However, some of these very important factors have been a challenge and have directly affected our destinations image. These include various security challenges, poaching and the illicit trade in animal trophies.”
In Kenya, the tourism sector remains a key pillar of the economy, contributing 11percent of the GDP and providing one in every nine jobs.
“Because of the tourism potential, my government has identified tourism as one of the key economic pillars in the Kenya’s Vision 2030. Several investment opportunities exist in the tourism flagship projects that are under the Vision 2030. These include construction of resort cities, hotels, eco-lodges, conference facilities, and marinas among others.”