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Balala nominated for top tourism award

NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 12 – Tourism Minister Najib Balala is among 10 other Ministers in Africa who have been short-listed for the African Tourism Minister of the Year Award.

According to a list released by the International Pan-African investment group, Africa Investor (Ai), Mr Balala was among those who could be feted at its annual Tourism Investor Awards for 2008, which will be held in Mozambique later this month.

Five other Kenyan entities have also been short-listed for various award categories; including the Tourism Trust Fund (TTF) in the category of Best Initiative in Facilitating SME Tourism Investment, Kenya Airways (Best Airline), Eagle Africa Insurance Brokers (Business Travel Insurer), Ol Malo Eco-Lodge and Trust (Sustainable Tourism Investment) and Nairobi City (Tourism Investor City of the Year).

“These awards are Africa’s only initiative designed to recognise the achievement of those businesses, governments, organisations and individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the growth of sustainable tourism investment in Africa,” said Professor Geoffrey Lipman, Assistant Secretary at the UN World Tourism Organization and chairman of the Awards judging panel.

The Awards will be presented at a Gala ceremony on February 27 at the Joachim Chissano Conference Centre in Maputo, to coincide with the African Investor Summit that will be opened by the Mozambican President Armando Guebuza.

According to the Ai, this year’s shortlist boasts an impressive array of Pan African tourism projects and profiles and the extensive initiatives being taken by Africa’s public sector and international private investors.

Commenting on the shortlist, the Vice Chairman of African Investor, Hubert Danso, said that Sub-Saharan African travel and tourism capital investments were estimated at $20.4 billion in 2008 and by 2018 should reach $42.6 billion.

“As in any region, travel and tourism acts as a catalyst for construction and manufacturing and these awards will recognise those organisations pioneering such projects,” said Mr Danso.

The highly competitive African Tourism Minister of the Year category has entries from across the continent, namely Shamsa Mwangunga (Tanzania), Nandi-Ndaitwah (Namibia), Marthinus Van Schalkwyk (South Africa – winner in 2008), Fernando Sumbana Jr (Mozambique), Mohammed Boussaid (Morocco), Khelil Lajimi (Tunisia) and Charles Xavier Luc Duval of Mauritius.

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There is stiff competition between African and international investors for the awards. The Best Initiative in Facilitating SME Tourism Investment Awards sees Kenya’s TTF challenging South Africa’s Industrial Development Corporation, the Dubai World and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Kenya Airways will compete for the Best Airline of the Year Award against last year’s winner, Emirates, in race joined by Virgin Atlantic Airways and South African Airways.

The host sponsors of the event are the Mozambican Government, the UNWTO, African Travel Channel, New Partnership for Africa Development (NEPAD), South Africa Direct TV and the NEPAD Business Group, among others.

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