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A destination of diversity: Kenya
July 2013 1523

FROM wildlife safaris, fine beaches, a spectrum of luxury hotels, tented camps, and picturesque landscapes, Kenya is a destination of diversity.

According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the industry is responsible for nine per cent of GDP and it is forecast to rise at more than five per annum until 2023. In employment terms, the industry is responsible for 600,000 jobs, nearly 11 per cent of total employment. TTN spoke to John Chirchir, regional marketing manager of the Kenya Tourist Board to understand what makes the country tick.

What are the main attractions of Kenya? 

Aside from wildlife and beaches, Kenya is also renowned for its culture. There are 42 communities with distinct cultural practices, styles of dressing as well as traditional rituals. The government is looking towards developing ecotourism with a home concept theme where visitors can stay within a local community and get an authentic feel of Kenya. Adventure tourism is also highly regarded with offerings such as the Lewa Wildlife Sanctuary marathon, a charitable race whose funds support core operations of community conservancies in Kenya including building fences to keep wildlife away from human settlements. With Nairobi and Mombasa becoming a hub for small conferences where meetings can be held ‘in the wild’, we are now receiving more conference businesses as well. Kenya is the third best destination for Mice in Africa.

What are the ongoing tourism projects? When will they be completed? What is the investment on them? 

There have been a lot of investments made towards our infrastructure, especially with highways and feeder roads. One of our main projects is Isiolo which will be developed into a Vegas-like destination and Lamu where resorts will be built into an urban setting and will include a marina. In Mombasa a conference facility will be set up. We are also working on luxury offerings with high-end camps which have been very well received by the GCC visitors. Aside from these, we have a number of international and local hotel brands coming up as well as the emergence of the serviced apartment segment.

What was the number of tourist arrivals last year, both globally and from the Middle East? What are your expectations for this year?

The global arrivals for 2012 was recorded at 1,236,024. From the UAE alone we nearly doubled our figures from 21,128 arrivals in 2011 to 40,485 in 2012. For this reason, we are putting a lot of emphasis on this region. For the whole of the Middle East/Gulf excluding North Africa 2012 arrivals reached 58,711, more than double from 27,289 in 2010.

This year is looking good so far as well with figures for the first five months reaching 21,762. We expect the same growth rate to be sustained from the Middle East market.

What was the tourism revenue generated last year?

Tourism Revenues for 2012 were 97 billion Kenyan shillings (approx. $1 billion) and we are projecting a 10 per cent growth.

By Kim Thomson

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