Tourism remains resilient in the face of major challenges
The general global economic slowdown, especially in the eurozone, Kenya’s main source of tourists, still affected Kenya’s travel and tourism industry. Despite all this, however, there was a significant increase in both business and domestic tourism, not to mention an increase in tourist flows from East and Central Africa. The hospitality industry in particular gained from meetings and weddings. The aforementioned factors helped keep the industry afloat, but tourism is still not yet out of the woods. A great deal of safety assurances and marketing are need to boost it back to its former glory, as one of Kenya’s most lucrative exports.
Kenya makes significant steps towards product diversification
Kenya was recently ranked as the second most popular MICE tourism destination in Africa, in the wake of an increase in local and international conference tourism of 12% and 6% respectively. The Kenya International Conference Centre witnessed a 45% increase in conferences in 2012 alone, due to concerted advertising efforts by its marketing agency, as well as the Kenya Tourism Board. MICE tourism is seen as one of the main pillars of the country’s travel and tourism industry, and as having tremendous growth potential. Sport tourism is also seen as a potential area for investment, due to the growing prominence of and demand for golf tourism in the country, evidenced by the increasing number of golf resorts and holiday homes.
Domestic tourism on the rise
Rising per capita incomes, which were responsible for the growth of the middle-class population, translated into a remarkable increase in revenue for domestic tourism. This was a major factor behind the modest growth of international tourism in in 2012, due to travel warnings and fear of insecurity arising from pre-election jitters and the threat of Al-Shabaab retaliation. It is expected that significant marketing activity by the national tourism board will be targeted towards the local population, as the industry seeks to diversify revenue streams away from the Eurozone and the impact of the 2013 Westgate attack in order to restore sustainable growth.
International hotel investors are optimistic about the growth of tourism
Despite fears by most international investors that the March 2013 elections may prove disastrous, there was a marked increase in investment by global players in hotels within the country, due the growth in inbound business and conference tourism, particularly within the capital. Several developments are already underway, with key global brands such as Radisson Blu, Park Inn by Radisson, Lonrho Hotels and Best Western already set to open for business not too far into the forecast period. Existing players, such as Hilton and InterContinental, are, meanwhile, looking to entrench their presence within the country in order to protect their market shares in the face of the growing competition. The increase in international brands within the region is setting the country up as a regional hub for business and conference tourism, with recognisable brands which make it an ideal destination for tourists looking to stay with brands they trust. However, the recent Westgate attack could slowdown investments and inbound tourism in the country.
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