Thu 06 Apr 2017, 12:03
This week on CNN's Marketplace Africa, host Eleni Giokos reports from Kenya to examine a rebound in the country’s tourism industry and some of the new attractions that are being developed for visitors.
Marketplace Africa airs on Friday 7 April at 18:15 on CNN (401).
Kenya’s tourism industry contributes between 10% and 11% of the nation’s overall GDP, but several years of declining revenues have meant that the government is now looking towards new types of attractions to draw visitors to the country.
Giokos meets Joseph Gacheru, the executive chef at the Tamarind Group, who explains the impact of declining tourists to the restaurant industry in Kenya.
As owners of the Carnivore restaurant in Nairobi, which had previously been a popular attraction for tourists seeking to sample authentic African cuisine, Gacheru outlines the long-term decrease in visitors. “In the 1980s and 1990s, we used to get even up to 70% tourists and 30% locals. But the numbers have been declining for the past five years or so, and we have seen fewer and fewer tourists coming through. Not only here, but generally in the country.”
Overall, revenues from the tourism sector decreased to $822 million in 2015 from $846 million in 2014, with international visitor arrivals also declining by 12.6% to 1.1 million in the same period.
While Kenya is known to attract tourists to experience its wildlife and other natural resources, the country’s tourism board is looking to respond to this trend by highlighting other attractions.
According to Najib Balala, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, this has been reflected in a rebound of the industry’s figures. “Recovery takes about two to three years. So, in our first year, we've recovered by 16 percent because we've taken some options to promote tourism… When we lost tourism, we lost almost 30 000 jobs.”
At the heart of these new plans in the new Vipingo Ridge golf development, the only PGA (Professional Golfers Association) course on the continent, which the government hopes will not only help boost Kenya’s economic growth but also attract a new type of visitor to the country.
Balala explains the influence of tourism on Kenya’s growing economy. “Kenya is growing at six percent economic growth - that is exciting. They have seen the vision of the government that has put forward through the railway, infrastructure, energy reduction… People see the opportunity of investing into Kenya because the currency is stable, there is vibrant youth, as well as the ease of doing business.”
CNN's Marketplace Africa travels to Vipingo Ridge and learns how the management is hoping to host their first PGA event at the venue, in the hope of contributing further to Kenya’s tourism rebound.
Giokos speaks to the general manager, Mike Round-Turner, who outlines the scale of the development, and why the PGA chose to make Vipingo Ridge its first endorsed course in Africa.
Round-Turner explains to Giokos why the PGA association is so significant. “When we looked into it, a lot of the PGA golf courses in South Africa are aligned to the South African PGA, which is a completely different entity to the PGA Great Britain and Ireland, which is the original PGA… They wanted to come here. They wanted to certify something in Africa. They came here, had a good look and we discussed it from there and on.”
The programme learns that the course was designed to US PGA standards by golf architect David Jones, covering 200 acres of land, in the hope of attracting more international players and tourists to Vipingo.
Giokos asks Round-Turner how he expects the development to be impacted by Kenya’s tourism figures, to which he responds: “It's difficult to say because every year we're building up, but our overseas visitors have fallen by 30, 40 percent easily. But we've been out to fill that gap with domestic visitors, especially in peak periods… The more people who are exposed to this golf course, the better it is for us.”
Remember to catch this story on Marketplace Africa on Friday 7 April at 18:15 on CNN (401).