, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 26 – Kenya’s tourism sector has recently suffered a big blow owing to terror attacks by the Al Shabaab militia group.
But as we look into 2016, the newly appointed tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has assured positive changes with his focus being on security, product development and marketing.
After he was appointed to the now stand alone ministry, Balala promised that 2016 will be the year of recovery.
However external shocks continue to prevail with insecurity still a challenge to the country, as Al Shaabab continues to attack, but this doesn’t scare the investors in the sector.
Travelport President and Managing Director Africa, Middle East and South Asia Rabih Saab is upbeat about Kenya tourism growth projecting an increase in the sector in 2016 compared to 2015.
Speaking to Capital FM Business, Saab who could not give numbers of projections says Kenya’s tourism industry is always resilient to shocks and expects a full recovery in 2018.
“It’s very difficult to give you year on year growth projections because there are so many unforeseen elements that affect travel and tourism in general. We believe that tourism will continue to be a key pillar in the Kenyan economy,” Saab said.
He says with the continued security improvement and the stable macroeconomics, the sector is bound to recover and pledged more investments in the company.
“We believe in this market, we have high inspirations for the Kenyan market, although the past few years, has not been easy with Ebola and Terrorism and geo political economic hardships but we believe in Africa in general and Kenya specifically, Kenya is growing and is very important part of the continent and we will continue to invest more here,” he assured.
He says that earlier indication shows a rise in travel and tourism numbers in terms of bookings compared to last year citing that the year has started very well for the tourism sector.
“We have all seen growth in terms of early bookings, I don’t have a specific number to show you but the positive trend is continuing but again our industry is very fragile in terms of what happens especially when it comes to security, cancellations happens very quickly,” he explained urging the government to maintain the gains the country has had so far.
The firm has invested US$500 million on a state of the art help desk centre in Kenya to support the increasing synergies between various travel and tourism industry in the country.
The state of the art travel agency helpdesk facility in Nairobi which was opened on Tuesday offers a range of services including technical and operational assistance in Both English and Kiswahili designed to heighten service delivery for Travelport’s travel agent customers.
In the last few years, the Nairobi tourism circuit has attracted major local and foreign direct investment, notably hospitality heavyweights such as Hemingways, The Kempinsky, and The Randison Blu among others.
The direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP is expected to grow by 5.2 percent year on year to Sh314bn by 2024.