Balala sells Kenya in London

November 11, 2008

, LONDON, November 11 – The Government is urging investors in the tourism sector to capitalise on available business opportunities within the country’s parks.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala said on Tuesday that the government had identified a number of investment opportunities, some of them in wildlife protected areas which are endowed with peculiar animal and plant life in their natural state.

Addressing the Ministerial Summit of the United Nations World Tourism Organization held at the ongoing World Travel Market in London, Mr Balala said potential investors could take full advantage of the existing opportunities in Kenya through direct investment, joint ventures with Kenyan entrepreneurs and public-private sector partnerships.

“Kenya’s advantages lie in its immeasurable natural resources, trained personnel, growing population of young people, and opportunities of unexplored business”, said Mr Balala.

According to the World Trade Organisation, Kenya is now ranked sixth in international arrivals to Sub-Saharan Africa and therefore one of the highest potential destinations for tourists.

In his presentation to the world tourism body titled “The role of tourism in poverty alleviation in Kenya” the Minister noted that tourism has to work for the people.

“We know enough now from our African continent to argue that business without a social dimension is a recipe for tragedy,” the Minister emphasised, noting that tourism employs more women and youth in the country than other industries and depends on a capital base that is readily available for even the poorest of countries.

“The industry can thrive even in poor and marginal areas,” he said, adding that the sector was currently employing about 253,000 people in the modern wage sector and about 500,000 in the informal sector as well as stimulating growth in sectors such as agriculture, transport, handicraft and construction.

“The long and short of all these is that  for every dollar, for every pound and Euro spent by a tourist in Kenya, a poor child is able to go to school” said Mr Balala. “This child and many in his generation will be in a position to break free of the poverty cycle and even help others out of it as well. This is the greatest benefit that the global community can deal on poverty in the developing countries such as Kenya”.

The minister assured the international community of the Government’s commitment to improve the tourism industry to the best it can be. However, he noted that local efforts must go hand in hand with external efforts if the country is to compete effectively in today’s globalised world.

Kenya is represented in the tourism expo by 46 travel trade stakeholders ranging from tour operators, hotels and lodges, air operators and government tourism agencies.

The fair kicked off on Monday and will be closing on Thursday.

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