The Kenya Tourism Board is expected to release details of its newly appointed minister of tourism in the next few days, following a cabinet reshuffle that resulted in the popular Najib Balala being sacked from his post as minister after a dispute with his ODM party Chairman and prime minister Raila Odinga.
Balala, who was also elected as Chairman of the UNWTO Executive Committee in 2011, is thought to have accused Odinga of ‘undemocratic practices’, which led to him being ‘dumped’ by the tourist board.
The widely popular Politian was credited with boosting Kenya’s tourism industry over the past three years with his tireless petitioning which helped secure funds to market the country abroad. During his leadership, Kenya has reported record visitor figures, despite turbulent economic times, a spate of kidnappings across the border in Somalia, and election violence back in 2008.
Balasa, who was the former Mayor of Mombasa and previously won the title of African Tourism Minister of the Year, was thought to understand the needs of the sector.
While his departure has been a blow for his supporters, Balala is expected to make a comeback in the not too distant future. Meanwhile, with a tough act to follow and all eyes watching, Danson Mwazo will be making his first appearance on the front bench in the next few days.
Major hotel groups eye Africa
With economic growth in Africa predicted to average 6% in 2012, according to the IMF, major hotel chains are looking to get a piece of the pie, with plans to increase their presence across the continent according to the latest research by Lagos-based W Hospitality Group.
In total, 208 new hotels with over 38,000 rooms are planned to come to the market in the next five years – 63 hotels with 9,612 rooms in 2012, 55 hotels with 9,356 rooms in 2013, 57 hotels with 12,296 rooms in 2014, 30 hotels with 6,060 rooms in 2015 and 3 with 750 rooms In 2016. Overall, this represents an increase in capacity of 30% over the existing base. Of the total number of rooms in the pipelines, 55% are under construction, the balance in the planning and design phase.
The country receiving the greatest attention for investment is Nigeria, where 43 hotels with 6,808 rooms are planned.
Accross Africa, Accor has a pipeline of 36 hotels and 5,982 rooms, followed by Carlson Rezidor with 25 hotels and 5,337 rooms, Hilton, with 11 hotels and 3,380 rooms, IHG with 9 hotels and 2,885 rooms, Marriott with 14 hotels and 2,512 rooms, Mövenpick, with 12 hotels and 2,182 rooms and Starwood with 6 hotels and 2,140 rooms.
Kenya set to host major events
Kenya is set for a busy year in 2012 with major international events set to place it in the spotlight and further boost its reputation as a top MICE destination.
Later this year, Bench Events and The Kenya Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) will host the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Nairobi on 25-25 September 2012 at the InterContinental.
The event will showcase the potential Kenya has to offer as well as other high-growth destinations across the continent as a whole. The Economist magazine recently identified that over the past decade six of the world’s fastest-growing countries were African. IMF expects Africa to grow by 6% in 2012. Nairobi is not only the focus of Africa but of the entire world.
Following AHIF, the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Ceremony will be held in Nairobi on September 26.
More than 5,000 organisations from 162 countries will compete in travel and tourism’s most influential awards programme. More than 900 categories cover all aspects of the industry from airlines and cruise ships to ski resorts and new luxury hotels.
WTA’s 2012 Grand Tour includes regional legs in Dubai (Middle East Ceremony), Turks & Caicos (Caribbean & The Americas Ceremony), The Algarve, Portugal (Europe Ceremony) and Singapore (Asia & Australasia Ceremony).
The winners of these regional heats will progress to the Grand Final, which will take place at The Oberoi, Gurgaon, New Delhi, India in December.