The 37th annual London World Travel Market exhibition was held here in London from Monday 6th November to 8th November 2017. The Kenya team which comprised of 27 exhibitors was led by Mrs. Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed, Principal Secretary for the Ministry of Tourism accompanied by Dr. Betty Radier, Chief Executive Officer of the Kenya Tourism Board. The event was also attended by the Kenya High Commissioner to the United Kingdom H.E. Mr. Lazarus O. Amayo and High Commission’s members of staff and some members of the Kenyan Diaspora in the UK. Among the key dignitaries who visited the Kenyan Pavillion included H.E Paul Kagame the president of the Republic of Rwanda.
Over the three days, the Principal Secretary held a number of interviews at the Kenyan Pavilion with both electronic and print media where she shared information regarding key product developments and reasons why Kenya stands out as favored destination of choice, Kenya’s tourism strategy for 2018, Government initiatives on tourism in Kenya among others. The Principal Secretary reiterated that Kenya had triumphed at the World Travel Awards including Diani Beach being named the Africa Leading Beach Destination for 2017, Masai Mara National Reserve being awarded Africa’s Leading National Park 2017 and Kenya Tourism Board as Africa’s Leading Tourism Board 2017.
Key Highlights the Interviews and Other Deliberations
- The safety of Kenya’s visitors, tourist destinations, and wildlife is a key priority of the Kenyan government and the Government of Kenya continue to assess security measures in place across the country including enhanced checks in public areas and an increased police to citizen ratio.
- Radicalism is a global issue and Kenya is one of many countries addressing this with its international partners including the UK and USA. As a nation, Kenya has continued to appeal to the international community to join in the war against acts of terrorism as the country puts in place its own measures to crack down on the extremists.
- The Tourism Police Unit (TPU), an initiative implemented by the government, is a specialist unit deployed to monitor tourism areas in both the key cities of Mombasa and Nairobi as well as other tourism areas across Kenya and is dedicated to ensuring the safety of visitors to Kenya.
- Kenya Tourism Federation Safety and Communication Centre (KTF-SCC) is the tourist safety and security communication management center in Kenya. It is operational 24/7 all year, manned by professional staff who provide necessary assistance to tourists and tourism stakeholders in cases of emergency. kenyatourism.or.ke
- The government has enhanced checks at major shopping malls, airports and other public areas. All hotels and other visitor facilities have complimented this effort by ensuring visitor checks are carried out for both vehicles and persons accessing premises
- In June 2017, Kenya’s first standard-gauge express railway, the Madaraka Express was launched. The new passenger train service between Nairobi and Mombasa offers a 4.5-hour transit between Kenya’s two major cities
- The railway operates two passenger services, the Intercity Train which runs non-stop between Nairobi and Mombasa and the County Train which will call at intermediate stations to allow passengers to disembark and travel onwards to national parks
- Within the first week of operations, the Mombasa-Nairobi SGR carried over 12,000 passengers
Jomo Kenyatta International Airport:
- Jomo Kenyatta International Airport currently serves a daily average of 19,000 passengers from Africa, Europe, and Asia.
- Expansion and modernization of Jomo Kenyatta international airport are currently underway including the development of 7 boarding bridges, a second runway, the construction of Terminal 4 and the redesigning of Terminals 1, 2 and 3 to double the airport’s annual passenger capacity.
- Owing to these efforts, traffic at the airport will grow at a rate of 12% per annum and is expected to hit the 25 million mark by 2025.
- Terminal 1 is currently in use exclusively to Kenya Airways, the national carrier and will handle at least 2.5 million passengers in a year and Terminal 2 is open to regional carriers
- The new terminal is conceived as a hub terminal for efficient connectivity for transiting passengers and is designed as an environmentally sustainable building.
- Kenya Granted Category 1 status:
- After an eight-year wait, on the 23rd February 2017, Kenya was given the go-ahead to operate direct flights to the US after passing a series of security and safety audit tests conducted by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). This is a major milestone in the growth and development of civil aviation in Kenya and East Africa
- In September 2016 Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta, assented to the Civil Aviation (Amendment) Act creating new aviation laws as part of the requirements by the International Civil Aviation Organization standards on safety. One key area was the separation of arriving and departing passengers as well as proper fencing of the airport.
Further Airport Developments
- Moi International Airport, Mombasa (MIAM) handles more than 18 airlines flying directly from and to Europe via Nairobi. It offers connections to over 20 cities in the region with Mombasa remaining as an attractive destination for tourists.
- Kisumu International Airport which opens up the Western tourism circuit was upgraded in 2013. Direct flights to the region have increased and the city has since grown its bed capacity with new hotels coming up such as The Sovereign Hotel
- The new Isiolo international airport to handle heavy commercial flights and passenger flight is opening up the northern part of the country to tourism as well as other industries
Road & Bridge Network
- The road connecting Samburu (on Mombasa road) and Kwale is now accessible for those driving to Diani making it possible to save time at the Likoni ferry.
- Roads to national parks are constantly being improved. Road circuits in national parks are graded regularly to make them passable.
- Airstrips are also maintained and a number of them are paved. Vegetation around the airstrips is kept low to ensure safety of users of these airstrips
- Roads to National Parks are constantly being improved. Road circuits in national parks are graded regularly to make them passable
- More ferries are now operating to enable ease of movement from Mombasa Island to the south coast. Plans are underway to construct a bridge
TOURISM INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES IN KENYA
- Hotel developments include:
- Lazizi Premier opened its doors in May, becoming the first airport hotel to begin operation.
- This is expected to be followed by the completion of Four Points by Sheraton Nairobi Airport and Hilton Garden Inn, which are in the final stages of completion.
- This will be the second property by Sheraton which took over management of the Four Point Hurlingham, previously Best Western Premier.
- International hotel management chain Best Western has taken over city hotel Meridian and branded it Best Western Plus.
- These developments, along with a stable local economy, are attracting international hotel brands to Kenya including Sheraton, Ramada, Hilton, Best Western, Radisson, Marriott, and Mövenpick.
- 13 hotels are scheduled to be built in Kenya by 2021, including additional units by Radisson Marriot and Best Western brands adding 2,900 rooms.
Government Incentives to Drive Further Growth
- In January 2018 the Kenya government will introduce a transit visa for tourists passing through Nairobi to other destinations which will be valid for four days
- The government’s charter incentives programme was introduced in January last year. The programme includes no landing fees in Mombasa and Malindi until 30th June 2018 and a passenger subsidy of USD30 (approx. £21) per seat filled by international passengers who terminate or disembark in Mombasa or Malindi.
- The charter incentives programme is increasing visitation to the Kenyan coast with new direct flights introduced from Ethiopian Airlines and Condor.
- KTB continues to work with charter and scheduled airlines to increase airlift into Mombasa, Malindi and Nairobi using the incentive programme
Tourism Strategy for the Kenya Coast
- The coast makes up 60% of the country’s hotel business
- Kenya’s Diani beach was voted Best beach in Africa, 2015, 2016 and 2017 at the World Travel Awards (WTA) – Africa.
- Kenya’s tourism growth can be attributed to improved security measures across the country, which led to the US, UK, and France lifting travel advisories last year against Kenya coastal resort towns, including Mombasa and Malindi.
- On 9th March 2017, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) removed the travel advisory warning against all but essential travel for Lamu Island and Manda Island. Both areas are now accessible by air with airlines including Air Kenya, Safarilink, Fly 540 and Jambojet from Nairobi, as well as Mombasa Air Safari from Mombasa.
- A project to build a new USD$1m modern cruise ship terminal is underway in Mombasa. Construction of the terminal comes at a time when a United States liner, Princess Cruises, is considering making Mombasa its home port by 2019.
- A beach management pilot programme championed by the KWS has been put in place and supported by the tourism industry.
- UNWTO has also partnered with the Kenya Coast Tourism Association to enhance this initiative by KWS so that Kenya’s beaches remain friendly to all visitors.
- Organized beach clean-up operations, initiation of frequent patrols, and reorganization of beach vendors has made the beach friendly to tourists
East African Joint Event at World Travel Market (WTM)
On November 8th, 2017, The East African Community Partner States of the Republics of Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and the United Republic of Tanzania organized a joint event at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London. The event was graced by Hon Ephraim Kamuntu, Uganda Minister for Tourism, Wildlife, and Antiquities, Mrs. Fatuma Hirsi Mohamed, Principal Secretary for Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism, The Deputy Secretary General of the EAC in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo, Heads of Mission from the EAC Member States, CEOs and staff of Tourist Boards from the Member States, Exhibitors, Members of Diplomatic Corps, the Diaspora Community, among others. The first part of the event took place at the Uganda stand with one on one interview of each member country representatives followed by a statement by Hon Ephraim Kamuntu on behalf of EAC, Uganda being the Chair of the Community.