MOMBASA, Kenya, Jan 7 – President Uhuru Kenyatta has called on tourism stakeholders in the country to be creative and improve the quality and range of services so as to compete globally.
President Kenyatta pointed out that it will not be useful to do major tourism marketing campaigns if the sector does not offer high quality services.
“We are operating in a global market and we must invest in improving services in our hotels, at the game and national parks. Today’s tourists have many options and we have to ensure we work hard to attract and retain them,” President Kenyatta said.
The President was speaking Monday at State House, Mombasa, when he received a report highlighting Kenya’s achievements in the tourism sector in 2018.
The Tourism Sector Performance Report 2018 presented to the Head of State by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala shows that the country earned Sh157 billion last year up from Sh119 billion in 2017 reflecting a 31.26 per cent growth.
It also indicates that international visitor arrivals increased from 1.47 million in 2017 to 2.02 million in 2018 representing a 37.33 per cent growth.
The report also shows that domestic tourism bed occupancy increased from 3.64 million in 2017 to 3.97 million in 2018, depicting a 9.03 per cent increase.
Receiving the report, President Kenyatta commended the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, and stakeholders in the sector for the remarkable growth.
President Kenyatta emphasised the need for the sector to ensure that local host communities also benefit from tourism.
“For example, we need to involve the locals and ensure that young people get employment by creating openings for them in areas like selling curios and other small businesses,” President Kenyatta said.
President Kenyatta urged the stakeholders partner with the Government in boosting the sector by contributing to deradicalisation efforts and improving security.
“So long as you make the local people to be part of the sector, you will be helping to improve security and benefiting the locals,” the President advised.
The report cites political stability, improved security, growth in the aviation sector including the direct flights to the US and investor confidence where Kenya improved from position 92 to 80 in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index, as some of the drivers for the growth witnessed in sector last year.
Other factors that drove the growth included withdrawal of travel advisories by the US and the UK governments, high profile foreign visits including those by Heads of State and their spouses and the adoption of the open border policy for Africans that provides for issuance of tourist visas on arrival.
Revitalised marketing efforts such as digital marketing and global campaigns and hosting of international conferences including the first ever global conference on Sustainable Blue Economy and the Africa Hotels Investment Forum also contributed to the growth.
According to the report, the purpose for 73.9 per cent of the total international arrivals was holiday, 13.3 per cent was for business and conference, 6.7 per cent was for visiting friends and relatives while 6.4 per cent was for other reasons.
The report shows that the top market source for foreign tourists to Kenya is the US with 225,157 travellers, which represents 11.12 per cent of the total arrivals.
Source market by regional ranking indicates that Africa and the Indian Ocean Islands contributed 825,489 tourists (40.76pc), Europe 611,969 (30.22pc), Asia 282,624 (13.96pc) and Americas 247,530 (12.22pc) among others.
CS Balala thanked President Kenyatta for his continued support to the sector to achieve the impressive growth realized last year.
He singled out the improvement of infrastructure at the Coast and across the country as a key contributor to the growth as well as political stability and improved security.
Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho attended the meeting.