MILAN, Italy, Sep 9 – Kenya’s profile as a tourist and investment destination is soaring high in Italy following President Uhuru Kenyatta’s visit, an Italian business magnate has said.
Flavio Briatore conveyed the sentiments of the Italian business community when he met President Kenyatta in Milan Wednesday on the sidelines of the Italy-Kenya Business Forum.
Briatore said there was a growing appetite by Italian investors to set base in Kenya, a signal of the confidence they have in the country.
“With the right policies in place, the confidence that Italian investors have in Kenya is riding high,” Briatore said.
The Italian business magnate – who has invested heavily in the hotel industry in Kilifi County – said Kenya has many attractive attributes as a business destination and would improve even more with increased high-level promotion campaigns.
“Great things do not just happen, they are made to happen by great people like you Mr President. Your visit here is one such move,” Briatore said.
The Italian tycoon said he was eyeing to invest more in real estate development and construction of world-class hotels in the coastal towns of Malindi and Mombasa to promote tourism.
He urged the Kenyan Government to expedite efforts to have direct flights from Milan to Malindi and Mombasa to ease air travel for businesspeople who, he said, cannot afford the time wasted during connecting flights.
Briatore also expressed the need for improvement of infrastructure in Kilifi County, especially the upgrade of Malindi Airport to international status.
President Kenyatta assured the Italian business community that his government was focused on ensuring that a conducive business environment is sustained in Kenya.
“We are committed to address the needs of both local and foreign investors,” President Kenyatta said.
The Head of State said the National Government would work with the County Government of Kilifi to address the issues raised by Briatore on infrastructure. Kilifi Governor Amason Kingi is in Milan as well for the Kenya-Italy business forum.
Briatore is due to led a group of Italian billionaire business people to Nairobi later in November to discuss issues related to consolidating business-to-business cooperation between Kenyan investors and their Italian counterparts.
East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie said the launch in Milan of Kenya’s new brand campaign, dubbed “Make it Kenya” by President Kenyatta was aimed at enhancing Kenya’s position as a global leader in investment, commerce and tourism. She said the campaign will play a big role in marking Kenya.
President Kenyatta was also due to meet other Italian renowned business leaders – including Italian petroleum tycoon Massimo Moratti – before he concludes his visit.