Kenya recently became the first ever African host of a tourism world congress, drawing light to a national market that has weathered storms to establish itself as East Africa’s top player.
More than 500 delegates from 40 countries arrived in Mombasa for
the 79th International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals World Congress, being hosted on the African continent for the first time in its storied history.
This apparent affirmation of Kenya’s presence as a leading market is a timely one for a nation that has endured rocky years of late. This newfound positivity is widespread throughout the upper echelons of the government which is now expecting to count more than one million extra tourists per year by 2022, according to cabinet secretary Najib Balala.
Speaking at the event he noted the changing perception of Kenya as a destination.
“This event marks a turning point for Mombasa, as it affirms itself as a safe international destination. We are very proud as people from this beautiful coastal city, of the progress we are making and pledge to enhance our efforts to offer our clients the best visitor experience possible and great value for their money,” he said.
The 2.5m yearly visits for which the government expects represents a projected growth of 72 percent on the 2017 of 1.45m.
Supporting this crucial market is an economy finding its feet after periods of political instability and associated international image issues. Such is timely, as the competing east African mar- kets of Tanzania and Rwanda have made the most of the Kenyan slowdown by running aggressive marketing campaigns designed to stake their claims as the region’s premier locales.
The International Monetary Fund has expects the Kenyan economy to expand by 6.1 per- cent in 2019, a marginal increase on 2018’s figure of 6 percent, but streaks ahead of many other African nations that currently sit with projections around the two percent mark. This progress however is tempered by a high national debt holding that will have to be addressed if the nation’s true economic potential is to be realised.
Kenya’s largest betting operator SportsPesa however appears prepared to back it’s home nation going forward and is reportedly planning a stock market float in 2019.
Whilst these reports have been officially denied by the company the move makes a great deal of business sense in the current market climate.
African gaming expert Yahaya Maikori, and senior partner at Law Allianz told press: “Having caught the world’s attention, they will need impactful funding to compete and I think that is why an IPO makes sense. For me, it’s a no brainer.”
He added that if the company were to follow through with the IPO it would be a stark affirmation of the strength of African gambling operators.
“It will reaffirm what we have always said about indigenous operators’ ability to create gaming behemoths. In almost all the gaming markets in Africa, local operators lead and control mar- ket share. The foreign companies have a lot to learn on the need to localise their operations to suit Africa’s needs.”