Phyllis Kandie, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for east African affairs, commerce and tourism is to be the patron of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum, which takes place in Nairobi on September 24th-25th.
The event 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 becoming patron, Kandie said: “After agriculture, tourism is Kenya’s second most important economic sector in terms of export revenues and I am determined to encourage its growth.
“One of the best ways to do so is to encourage investors from the private sector to build new hotels, restaurants and visitor attractions.
“Since AHIF is the event that attracts the highest calibre international hotel investors and since it is taking place this year in Nairobi; we have an extraordinary opportunity to show off Kenya as a destination and to persuade many of the top business people in attendance that Kenya is an excellent place to invest their money.”
In Africa as a whole, tourism is seen as a highly attractive growth industry.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council, it is responsible for nine per cent of GDP and it is forecast to rise at more than five per cent per annum until 2023.
In Kenya, tourism is worth KES450bn to the economy, 12.5 per cent of GDP and it is forecast to rise by 2.2 per cent in 2013, and to rise by 4.5 per cent per annum to over KES700bn in 2023.
In employment terms, the industry is responsible for 600,000 jobs, nearly 11 per cent of total employment.
Jonathan Worsley, chairman, Bench Events, the company that organises AHIF and other top international hotel investment conferences, said: “There are a number of reasons to raise one’s level of optimism about investing in tourism businesses in Kenya - and the surrounding countries.
“First, we saw peaceful elections in Kenya earlier this year, which boosted business confidence.
“Second the government gets tourism and it is working on a range of plans to help the industry grow.
“Third, there is a powerful trend of increasing trade between East African countries, which is being further reinforced by political efforts to create a common market in East Africa with a common currency.”
In 2012, AHIF 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 media worldwide.