The new government stood for election with tourism highlighted in its manifesto and since Uhuru Kenyatta's inauguration, commitments have been made to increase the intensity of Kenya's tourism marketing activity, to double the number of tourists to three million a year and to provide incentives to encourage investment in tourist accommodation.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), the total contribution of Travel & Tourism to Kenya's GDP in 2012 was KES448.4bn, 12.5% of GDP, and that is forecast to rise by 2.2% in 2013 and to rise by 4.5% pa over the next decade to KES714.8bn in 2023.
Phyllis Jepkosgei Kandie has been nominated as the new Cabinet Secretary for Commerce and Tourism, with useful experience to draw on from a career that has embraced banking and enterprise promotion. She also has academic qualifications in business and economics.
Improved transport infrastructure is also high on the new government's agenda too. Michael Kamau, a prominent civil engineer and a key architect of the infrastructure upgrade in the last 10 years, has been proposed as the Cabinet Secretary responsible for constructing a series of commuter railway networks in Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu, including a link to Nairobi's Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.
Ewan Cameron, Chief Executive of Lonrho Hotels said: "We are very pleased to see the election of Uhuru Kenyatta and are impressed by his vision for Kenya. The growth of inter community trade has been spectacular and we would expect that to continue under his leadership, with the result that Kenya will be the pumping heart of the East African economy."
One gathering that will have a bearing on the speed of tourism growth will be AHIF 2013, which takes place in Nairobi on September 24-25. It brings together the leading international hotel investors in Africa with local operators, ministers, government officials and industry experts, who will discuss all aspects of hotel investment and operation in Africa. In 2012, the event attracted 426 delegates from 38 countries who represented 310 organisations. Several networking contacts made at AHIF have since resulted in promising new business relationships and the event attracted considerable media attention, with around a hundred reports appearing in the Kenyan media and around the world.
Jonathan Worsley, Chairman, Bench Events, the company that organises AHIF and other top international hotel investment conferences, said: "The pro-tourism stance of the new Kenyan government is evidently increasing the country's investment appeal and the proactive nature of the Kenya Tourist Development Corporation (KTDC) is a factor too. Even though there was pressure to stage AHIF 2013 in another African city this year, it made a strong and successful case to keep the event in Nairobi."
Wolfgang M. Neumann, President & CEO of the Rezidor Hotel Group agreed; he said: "We are very much focused on sub-Saharan Africa where we have 12 hotels in operation and 21 hotels under development - this is the largest pipeline of any international hotel operator in the region. Our new Kenyan flagship, the Radisson Blu Hotel Nairobi, is scheduled to open in the first quarter of 2014. Kenya is a key market for us, and we enjoy excellent relationships with our owners and the main tourism bodies in Kenya. Under the new administration we are optimistic that those ties will only strengthen further. We are certainly looking forward to collaborating on the promotion of Kenya as a truly outstanding and attractive destination for both business and leisure guests".