Kenya has set out an ambitious project to build three tourism resort cities at the Coast and in the North in the next two years to boost the industry.
Toward this end, the government is dispatching a team of experts from the tourism industry and the Kenya Vision 2030 to Morocco to study the operations of resort cities there with a view to spearheading the construction of similar cities in Diani, Kilifi and Isiolo.
Tourism minister Najib Balala says the country has an extensive experience on development of resort cities since the ’70s, expertise that would help Kenya put up the resort cities, he added.
Under the Vision 2030 economic blueprint, the government will develop three resort cities — two on the Coast, in Diani and Kilifi, and one in Isiolo — to deliver the target of increased bed capacity to cope with the anticipated growth in number of visitors.
Morocco has three resort cities, attracting thousands of tourists especially from Europe, with three other facilities in the development stage.
Mr Balala said the exchange of expertise by the two countries was in line with a memorandum of understanding signed in 2009.
The team, the minister noted, will seek to know the process of identifying investors, development of support infrastructures and community involvement in the projects, among other areas of interest.
“As per our MOU with Morocco, we need to exchange experience and know-how in planning and financing tourism, and in developing and maintaining infrastructure, especially on the resort cities,” said the minister.
Mission to Morocco
Mr Balala was leading a team of top tourism officials from the private sector and the Kenya Tourist Board, led by managing director Muriithi Ndegwa, on a mission to Morocco.
The private sector was represented by Kenya Tourist Federation chief executive officer Agatha Juma, Kenya Association of Tour Operators chief executive officer Fred Kaigwa and chairperson Adam Jilo, and Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers chief executive officer Mike Macharia and chairperson J.S Vohra, who is also the Sarova hotels managing director.
Others were Kenya Association of Travel Agents chief executive Waturi Matu, Mombasa Coast Tourist Association chairman Mohammed Hersi, Eco-tourism Kenya board member Elizabeth Kimotho, and Pubs Entertainment and Restaurants Association of Kenya national chairman Walter Reif and trustee Ian Martin.
Morocco records almost 10 million tourist arrivals a year, placing it at second position in Africa after Egypt.
Kenya receives two million tourists a year, a figure it hopes to double once the resort cities are constructed.
Specific areas where Kenya seeks to borrow from Morocco include product diversification, domestic tourism with a low cost accommodation model, golf tourism and community linkages to tourism, especially through small and medium enterprises (SMES).
The minister said there was a need to take intra-Africa trade and travel a step further in the wake of expected shrinkages of key source markets in Europe, owing to the eurozone crisis.
“This is a wake-up call to Africa to develop robust, sustainable regional tourism to insure the continent against economic fluctuations of European economies,” said Mr Balala.