Kenya launches National Celebrations for International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development

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Cabinet Secretary of Tourism Naajib Balala launching the celebrations

Photo credit:Kenya Ministry of Tourism

Kenyan’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala has launched the national celebrations of the international year of sustainable tourism at a well attended ceremony at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi.

Launching the celebrations at the packed auditorium, the Cabinet Secretary said, the celebrations was aimed at supporting development that meets the needs of the present generation, without comprising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs.

Mr Balala noted that, ‘’ In this front, Kenya has been a leader in sustainable tourism development, especially from an environmental perspective. This is clearly demonstrated by the environmental conservation efforts undertaken in the country, since pre-independence days (like ivory burning).’’

He added that, his ministry has also developed sustainable tourism strategies through stakeholder and community consultations. Devolution has also enabled stakeholders to be more involved in tourism development and management.

The Cabinet Secretary also used the occasion to outdoor the Tourism Service Vehicle (TSV) stickers that will be used to distinguish tourism vehicles from Public Service Vehicles (PSV). This is expected to go a long way in regulating the unregistered tourism service vehicles and enhancing efficiency and safety in the sector.

The year 2017 has been earmarked by the United Nations as the International year of Sustainable Tourism for development and was launched earlier this year by the UNWTO Secretary General Taleb Rifai during the FITUR International Tourism Fair in Madrid, Spain.

Please read below the full text of the Minister’s speech

I am pleased to launch the Kenyan celebrations of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development (IYST), as declared by the United Nations General Assembly last year. Globally, UNWTO launched IYST on 18th January 2017 during the Spanish FITUR travel fair that was held in Madrid, Spain.

Sustainable tourism development aims at supporting development that meets the needs of the present generation, without comprising the ability of the future generations to meet their own needs

Sustainable tourism takes into account the current and future economic, social and environmental impacts of tourism, seeking to address varied needs that include those of visitors, the industry, the environment and communities that play host to tourism.

In this front, Kenya has been a leader in sustainable tourism development, especially from an environmental perspective. This is clearly demonstrated by the environmental conservation efforts undertaken in the country, since pre-independence days (like ivory burning).

In addition, the Kenya Forest Service has managed to protect our forests spread across the country. This forms the basis of wildlife safari product, which provides a major competitive edge for the country as a tourism destination.

This is crucial because Kenya’s tourism is over 80% nature-based, with the revenues generated going back to protect its resources base. Sustainability is, therefore, paramount for destination Kenya, as it is with all other destinations around the world.

Besides wildlife, our cultural tourism product has become significant, leading to the need to conserve and promote cultural heritage. Kenya is endowed with cultural riches and diversity which, if properly leveraged upon, can enhance the destination’s competitiveness.

The industry should, therefore, build upon the increasing awareness of the inter-dependence of environmental concerns and economic development to promote sustainable tourism.

Ladies and Gentlemen,
Towards this end, we have crafted sustainable tourism development guidelines and management practices that are applicable to all forms of tourism in all types of destinations, including mass tourism and the various niche tourism segments.

My Ministry has also developed sustainable tourism strategies through stakeholder and community consultations. Devolution has also enabled stakeholders to be more involved in tourism development and management.
To ensure sustainability, some of the strategies being prioritized include:-
• Development and diversification of tourism products – key focus on niche tourism such as eco-tourism, MICE, sports adventure and home stays;
• Tourism dispersion – the under-utilized and over-utilized park initiatives under Kenya Vision 2030 are efforts to this effect;
• Support environment friendly practices – eco-labeling and eco-warriors awards by Eco-tourism Kenya;
• Community tourism efforts, as well as small and medium tourism enterprises, which support the local stakeholders such as cultural troupes; curio sellers; beach operators; conservancies, tour guides, local boat operators and home stays etc.;
• Development of infrastructure especially in tourism areas;
• Marketing of Kenya as a sustainable tourism destination, both locally and internationally;
• Collaboration with the private sector in developing various standards for the sector – national grading and classification exercise under the East African Community criteria;
• Mobilization of resources to support host communities involved in tourism.
I am happy to announce that in 2016, Kenya’s tourism sector recorded a growth of about 17% in both arrivals and revenue receipts, signaling better times ahead for the sector that had been largely beset by insecurity and other challenges.

The total international arrivals at the close of 2016 by air and sea was at 877,602 compared to 752,073 in 2015, illustrating an increase of about 17%.
Estimated tourism receipts for 2016 increased by about 18% to record almost Kes. 100 billion compared to Kes. 85 billion in 2015.

In terms of dollars, an increase of about 14% was recorded closing at US$ 982 million as compared to US$ 862 million being the revenue realized in 2015. This was an increase of approximately US$ 120 Million. The improvement of estimated revenues in million dollar terms, thus, is the real indicator that the sector is performing better.

In terms of share of arrivals, the USA has overtaken the UK to become the highest source market for Kenya. 11.2% of all the visitors reside in the USA, while 11.0% reside in the UK. India comes in third with 7.3%, followed by Uganda and China contributing 5.8% and 5.5% respectively; displacing Germany and Italy from the top five performing markets. Africa contributed 29% of the total tourism arrivals in 2016.

I want urge us all to commit to be advocates of sustainable tourism for development, since it touches on all sectors of our economy in Kenya.

It is now my pleasure to declare the Kenyan celebrations of the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development officially launched.
Today we are also launching Tourism Service Vehicle (TSV) stickers that will be used to distinguish tourism vehicles from Public Service Vehicles (PSV). This will go a long way in regulating the unregistered tourism service vehicles and enhancing efficiency and safety in the sector.
Thank you!

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