By Hasnain Noorani
Tourism and hospitality is one of the major engines for inclusive growth and sustainable economic development in Kenya with total contribution of 3.7% to country’s total GDP and directly supporting 429,500 jobs (3.4% of total employment) which according to World travel and Tourism Council report of 2018 is expected to rise by 2.8% in 2018 and rise by 2.7% pa to 574,000 jobs (3.2% of total employment) in 2028. This is perhaps why the tourism industry has stretched from seaside to mountain resorts in Kenya.
The sector has the capability to transform regional economic development and contribute heavily on the Kenya’s Vision 2030 economic and macro pillar. It has in deed remained the largest service industry globally, accounting for nearly 10 percent of global GDP. Nearly 293 million jobs, or one in eleven jobs around the world, are within the tourism and hospitality industry.
Tourism’s potential has in fact been recognized by policymakers at the national and global levels and is increasingly reflected in national and international policy frameworks. At the global level, Sustainable Development Goals 8, 12 and 14 highlights the central role of the tourism and hospitality industry in job creation, local promotion of culture and economic development. However, as tourism covers several sectors and is a cross-cutting issue, the development of tourism has an impact on many Sustainable Development Goals, for example, poverty, decent work, gender and infrastructure development.
At the continental level, the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the Tourism Action Plan under its New Partnership for Africa’s Development recognize hospitality and tourism’s importance in driving Africa’s socioeconomic development and structural transformation through job creation, in catalyzing growth in other productive sectors and in fostering inclusion through the participation of women and youth in the sector’s activities.
At the national level, most African countries have national development plans that outline a country’s vision for its future and identify planned policies and sectoral priorities, which highlight the importance of tourism. Kenya, through its Vision 2030 aims to be among the 10 long haul tourist destination in the world offering a high-end, diverse, and distinctive visitor experience that few of her competitors can offer. This futuristic ambition will see Kenya leap big from the hospitality sector.
The United Nations (UN) named 2017 the International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development to highlight the contributions of tourism towards Goal 8 and all of the SDGs to create more inclusive and economically stable jobs. Acknowledging the impact that tourism can have, the World Bank hosted the Tourism Knowledge Exchange in Washington, D.C. on June 2017 for international development organizations, governments, and private sector entities to discuss how naturally shifting trends in tourism have impacted the way tourism programming can advance the SDGs.
With tourism seen as a critical anchor for economic growth and job creation in Kenya, there is an urgent need for private sector and government to scale up levels of investment to support tourism and hospitality sector if it is to achieve the targets of the vision 2030. Vision 2030 consider tourism a priority area for economic transformation. Kenya adopted the National Tourism Strategy 2013-2018 to address national issues confronting the Kenya tourism sector and focus the players in the sector on sustainable tourism. The framework was meant to foster sustainable tourism in Kenya.
The sector is a major boost that has a ripple effect on other key sectors. Indigenous hotel chain PrideInn which has directly employed over 1000 employees is a case of how much potential the industry possesses and the significant economic results it has should it be tapped. The industry attracts a variety of suppliers who form the larger pool of suppliers. The industry also creates other small business within its environment for example beach activities which heavily benefit from the performance of the hospitality sector.
The writer is the Managing Director and Founder of PrideInn Group of Hotels