Tourism sector challenged to innovate in line with global trends

Written By: Grace Maina
1799

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala
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Kenya’s tourism industry has embarked on the implementation of a blueprint that aims to transform Kenya into an innovative, booming, vibrant, flexible and connected tourism destination by 2030.

Under the National Tourism Blueprint 2030, Kenya’s tourism industry aims to increase the number of foreign visitors coming to Kenya to 4 million and the number of domestic tourists to 26.4 million by 2030.

At the same time, the new tourism masterplan targets to increase the number of direct jobs in the tourism industry to 561,800 by 2030.

The National Tourism Blueprint 2030 is anchored on four strategic pillars which are a Tourism Product Development Strategy, a Tourism Marketing Strategy, a Tourism Investment Promotion Strategy and an Infrastructure strategy.

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Speaking at the opening of a two-day National Tourism Stakeholder Forum to discuss the transformative journey for the tourism sector, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala said Kenya’s tourism sector must adapt and innovate in line with global trends in order to increase its contribution to Kenya’s economy in terms of creation of more employment and income opportunities.

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CS Balala said, “It is no longer possible for travel and tourism providers or destinations to continue in a “business as usual” model or mindset. Innovation and change coupled with agility and ability to respond are critical for success today and into the future.”

“Our first priority must be to fix and refresh our tourism product and re-invigorate our engagement with our current markets – both local and international – in order to attract more existing visitors by 2019. We must introduce new products and expand into new source markets to attract new and more existing visitors”, CS Balala added.

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Speaking during the forum, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier said the board has identified 14 strategic initiatives that will be implemented under the country’s tourism marketing strategy which was developed last year.

Top among the initiatives is the implementation of a portfolio of Top, Signature and Quality Assured experiences to deliver an exceptional tourist experience to all visitors coming to Kenya.

The KTB CEO said, “Kenya’s safari, beach and marine, nature, culture and heritage and city tourism, as well as business tourism will be revamped and transformed into new products and authentic experiences that offer value to visitors coming into the country.”

Dr. Radier added, “The Magical Kenya brand will be known for more than just beach and safari but also for adventure trips (be it hiking, trekking or mountain climbing), nature and culture, beach holidays, special interest niches such as bird watching, athletics, golf, water sports, and special celebrations.”

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The forum is being held against the backdrop of the stellar performance recorded by Kenya’s tourism industry in 2017.

The tourism sector recorded a double-digit rise in earnings in 2017 to record just under KSh. 120 billion in revenue receipts, denoting a 20.3% growth in revenue compared to 2016 when the tourism sector earned KSh. 99.69 billion.

The strong growth in tourism receipts was underpinned by a 9.8% growth in total international arrivals into Kenya by air, sea, and cross border in 2017 to 1,474,671 arrivals compared to 1,342,899 arrivals in 2016.

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