The newly-inaugurated Hotel and Restaurant Authority will play an important role starting next year when all new hotel, resort, and lodge projects require to be licensed first, before commencing any construction, by the HRA in Nairobi. This measure, according to tourism minister Najib Balala, is aimed to ensuring quality and compliance with relevant other laws and regulations and promoting excellence in the hospitality sector.
The authority will also embark on a nationwide exercise of grading and classification, using the East African Community regulatory regime now in place for all the five member states.
On the same occasion the minister also confirmed that his ministry will ask a 5 percent fund-back based on the tourism sector’s overall financial performance, in order to finance aggressive marketing abroad so that the 2 million visitor arrival mark can be met by 2012 at the latest. Such funding from the treasure would also cover a multi-year period to ensure that the KTB’s activities could roll out as planned and were insulated from the annual rush for more funds, which is known to be disruptive of marketing activities due to the uncertainties attached to this method.
It was confirmed by the minister that such a budget would amount to over 3 billion Kenya Shillings, considered sufficient for the Kenya Tourism Board to be present at all major tourism and adventure travel trade shows around the world, open up new markets, and support destination marketing in emerging markets through flanking measures like media invitationals and agents fam trips.
The minister, while speaking at a golfing event in Mombasa, also confirmed that sports and domestic tourism would remain high on the agenda to cash in on Kenya’s sporting reputation abroad and making use of some of the facilities available, like golf courses, to attract more tourists. In regard of domestic tourism, it was also appreciated that the downturn over the past two years was cushioned by an increase in domestic travel, which the minister said has become a backbone for the country’s tourism industry. Mr. Balala also intimated, that following the recent Kenya Week in the United Arab Emirates, he was confident that leading hotel groups from the Gulf would take a fresh look at the opportunities in the country to opening top-class new tourism resorts along the coast starting from next year.