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Tourism Ministry restrategises for recovery and growth

Tourism CS Najib Balala, Tourism PS Zeinab Hussein and National Treasury CAS Eric Simiyu during the launch of the startegy.
Tourism CS Najib Balala, Tourism PS Zeinab Hussein and National Treasury CAS Eric Simiyu during the launch of the strategy.

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife launched a new strategy to guide the recovery and growth of the sector in the next five years.

‘The new vision for Kenya’s tourism’ strategy (2021-2025) will provide a road map for the sector as it strives to recover from a two-year Covid-19 induced slump.

Tourism CS Najib Balala while launching the strategy said it will shape the future of Kenya’s tourism industry as it was developed with a clear vision of propelling the sector to newer and higher heights.

Balala noted that the strategy was an important part of his ministry’s mission to accelerate economic transformation of communities through providing solutions and opening up new opportunities for growth in the sector.

“Despite the many challenges and sometimes difficult environment, the sector has made tremendous progress in developing practical frameworks that deliver a memorable visitor experience. It is against this backdrop that we launch the Tourism Strategy for Kenya 2022-2025,” Balala said.

“The strategy fully captures the Magical Kenya Tourism brand and highlights the opportunities that the sector can leverage on to not only ensure growth but also deliver life-changing experiences to the individuals who experience it.” 

The five-year plan comes at the backdrop of a challenging environment occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic and will serve as a blueprint that guides the country’s development efforts in the sector.

A key component of the new plan is to diversify away from the country’s dependence on Safari and Beach tourism.

To ensure this, the plan highlights four main pillars to actualize this which are: branding, marketing, experiences and enablers.

Balala said Kenya’s tourism sector is expected to be back to 2019 levels of by 2024.

He however noted that the ministry’s 2022 revenue will surpass those of 2019 due to the ongoing recovery efforts that are already showing positive outlooks.

On branding, the CS said establishing Kenya as a destination starts with a clear articulation of why visitors should travel to the destination in the first place.

A clear and well thought out branding strategy will put the country on the map, he said.

Marketing will then builds on the value proposition by identifying channels that are most effective at delivering this message to key target markets around the world.

Balala noted that specific initiatives will be developed for each channel, including digitalization across the tourism spectrum and creating sustainable standards that align with global trends.

The strategy calls for promoting Kenya as a multi-product destination with diverse offerings to enable it to have a competitive edge against neighbours and other emerging destinations. It also aims at diversifying tourist flows into Kenya from traditional Europe and North American markets to emerging markets such as India and China.

By outlining an actionable plan designed around the four pillars—brand repositioning, developing new and existing markets, developing new products and experiences as well as developing enablers to further strengthen the sector.

The Ministry hopes to transform Kenya into a top tourist destination in Africa.

Balala said the new strategy was an expression of the government’s commitment to accelerate economic growth through investments in key sectors such as tourism. The strategy takes a holistic approach that addresses all aspects of the industry from policy and legislation, to tourism infrastructure, marketing and promotion, as well as governance and capacity building

He called on stakeholders in the tourism sector to support the implementation of the document through active participation in its implementation process.

Tourism PS Zeinab Hussein said the new strategy goes beyond Covid-19 pandemic.

“This is because we need to position ourselves to take advantage of emerging trends in tourism. Tourism is a long term business and requires strategic thinking that looks years ahead into the future. We want to get our finger on the pulse so that when things change in other parts of the world, we are able to capitalize on those changes,” she said.

With this new strategy, the tourism ministry is banking on an increase in both international and domestic tourist arrivals as well as increased revenue from existing tourists.

In 2021, Kenya’s tourism sector recorded a 50.3 per cent increase in international visitors.

According to the Economic Survey 2022 released recently, annual foreign visitor arrivals increased from 579,600 in 2020 to 871,300 in 2021. 

This was mainly driven by the easing of travel restrictions  including the reopening of air spaces following months of closure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

However, the numbers are still much lower than pre-pandemic levels, which hit a high of two million in 2019.

The government has forecast the number of foreign visitors to reach 1.03 million by the end of the 2022/23 financial year.

In the 2022/23 budget, the National Treasury allocated Sh15.8 billion to stimulate tourism recovery with the Tourism Promotion Fund receiving Sh Sh1.8 billion.

Though small, domestic markets add value during downturns; regional markets could be deprioritized due to size.

The strategy says Egypt, South Africa, Nigeria and Morocco are among  African countries that offer great potential by travelling to Kenya.

Some 23.8 million are from Egypt, South Africa (6.6 million), Nigeria (3.9million), and Morocco (3.4 million).

From safaris in the Maasai Mara and other wildlife reserves to holidays on Indian Ocean beaches, Kenya’s tourism industry contributes about 10 per cent of economic output and employs over two million people.

The sector shed nearly 1.2 million jobs after the onset of the pandemic, the tourism ministry said, but it has started to claw back some of those losses on the back of the tentative recovery.