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Kenya tourism and aviation show signs of positive growth

Kenya tourism and aviation show signs of positive growth

Kenya is expected to record positive growth in the tourism and aviation sectors, signaling a new trend in East African tourism development over the next 10 years. Kenya’s tourism is projected to grow at 6 percent annually over the next decade. Reports from Nairobi indicate that tourism growth has been recorded at 5.9 percent, surpassing other economic sectors.

The World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) report shows that Kenya’s travel and tourism industry is larger than mining, chemical, and automotive manufacturing sectors combined. The economic value of the business and leisure travel sector accounts for 10 percent of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is almost the same size as Kenya’s banking sector, the report shows.

Travel and tourism directly supports employment nearly 3 times as many jobs as the banking sector and more than twice as many jobs as the financial services sector in the country. More than 1.1 million direct, indirect, and induced jobs were supported by the tourism industry in 2016, or 9.2 percent of the country’s total employment.

“These figures show that the tourism sector is not only a major engine to economic growth in Kenya, but it is also a creator of jobs,” said David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer of WTTC. “In Kenya, as in other countries, travel and tourism provides jobs across all levels of society and from the most remote rural areas to the busiest city center.”

The report by WTTC indicates that Kenya will need another 500,000 people to serve the travel and tourism industry over the next 10 years. “In order for our sector to continue to boost the economy and livelihoods in Kenya, it is important to address the anticipated talent shortage,” Scowsill added. “We depend on quality people to deliver a quality product to our customers.”

Scowsill said right policies, programs and partnerships need to be put into place to ensure that Kenya’s workforce of the future knows about the opportunities in the industry. He added that appropriate skills and knowledge in the workforce would support future growth of the sector.

“Kenya is a beautiful country with a great tourism product, and I call on the Kenyan government to continue to invest in the travel and tourism sector to foster the growth and further explore the great socio-economic benefits our sector has to offer,” he said.

Countries researched in the study by WTTC included the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Argentina, and Canada. Others were Turkey, Jamaica, Thailand, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Japan, and Mexico.

In the field of aviation, Kenya supports up to 620,000 direct and indirect jobs including employment in the tourism sector, a study by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) has concluded. The aviation industry contributed nearly Sh330 billion (US$3.2 billion) to Kenya’s economy, or 5.1 percent of the country’s GDP, according to the IATA report.

The findings are among highlights of the “Importance of Air Transport to Kenya” study which was conducted by Oxford Economics on behalf of IATA. “The study confirms the vital role that air transport plays in facilitating more than US$10 billion in exports, some US$4.4 billion in foreign direct investment, and around US$800,000 in inbound leisure and business tourism for Kenya,” said Muhammad Albakri, IATA’s regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa. However, by adopting policies that ensure a competitive operating environment for the airlines, Kenya could reap even greater dividends from aviation.”

According to executives surveyed by the World Economic Forum, Kenya’s transport infrastructure quality score places the country sixth out of 37 African countries surveyed and 78th globally. Kenya was ranked 31st out of the 37 African countries for cost competitiveness in the air transport industry, based on air ticket taxes, airport charges, and Value Added Tax. On visa openness, Kenya was ranked 10th out of the 37 African countries which were in the survey.

Around 130,000 aircraft land and take off from one of Kenya’s 5 main airports every year. The Jomo Kenyatta International Airport is the key gateway and handled more than 5.8 million passengers in 2014. “While Kenya’s air transport infrastructure ranks highly among African states, it is important that heavy fees, taxes, and charges do not hold aviation back,” Mr. Albakri said. “We are very encouraged by the news that the Kenya Airports Authority (KAA) has embarked on a study to review airport charges downwards.”

Mr. Albakri, who is soon making his first visit to Africa in his new capacity, also expected to visit Kenya. During his visit to Nairobi, the IATA official will be meeting with key industry stakeholders including officials from the government, the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority, KAA, and the African Airlines Association.