#MKTE2019: Balala optimistic of over 10% tourism growth by end of quarter

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Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala is confident the country will see at least a 10% tourism growth by this year’s quarter.

This he attributes to some interventions the government has embarked on and is still pursuing to ensure the East African country remains attractive to tourists. In his Keynote speech to officially open this year’s Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Balala cited improvement of safety and security in the country as one of the key highlights of these interventions.

“To sustain our growth in the tourism sector, the government has refocused its effort on areas of safety and security, infrastructure improvement, incentives as well as sustained campaigns on source markets to increase destination awareness.
“Due to the heightened safety and security measures, we have received several international high profile personalities and heads of states and this shows that the country is safe and the world is confident with Kenya. This proves that Kenya is both a business and diplomatic hub,” he said.

The Cabinet Secretary for tourism and other officials cutting the ribbon to officially open the expo

On infrastructure, the Cabinet Secretary said they had made “great strides.” The Global Competitiveness Index (GCI), an initiative of the World Economic Forum (WEF) that assesses the landscape of select economies across the globe, ranks Kenya 7th among the most competitive in Africa. This is behind Mauritius, South Africa, Morocco, Tunisia, Botswana, and Algeria.
This means that Kenya ranks top in the East African community. On the other hand, Kenya is ranked 61st among 190 economies in the ease of doing business, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. Kenya has moved 19 places up from 80 in 2017 to 61. This, for the Cabinet Secretary, puts Kenya in a pole position to attract investors and appeal more as potentially great foreign direct investment hosts.

In the wake of growth of cruise tourism worldwide, Balala said Kenya is positioning itself to leverage this segment. “Kenya is almost completing the construction of the cruise terminal in Mombasa and we anticipate it will be ready by the end of the year. This is set to open major businesses in the country and Kenya will be competing with the rest in the world.” Another project, the Mama Ngina Waterfront is set to open later this month in Mombasa.

Due to strong conservation efforts, he said the country has made big wins in the wildlife sector, which he avers, “positions Kenya not just as a tourist attraction destination, but also a world leader in conservation and protection of our natural heritage of wildlife.”

The on-going Magical Kenya Travel Expo is East Africa’s biggest tourism and travel trade show, attracting participants from all over the world. For Balala, the presence of over 134 buyers at this year’s event “is a positive indication of their readiness to sell this destination to all the visitors within their networks. It affirms that Kenya is a country many are eager to visit.”

By: Samuel Obeng Appah

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