Investments in tourism increased last year to Sh1.6 billion. The money was spend on expanding and improving available facilities countrywide.
The amount of investment, however, will have to be rapidly increased through private investments and private public partnerships to accommodate the huge numbers expected in the next 20 years.
Speaking during a stakeholders workshop at Utalii hotel, Nairobi Kenya Investment Authority general manager Ken Manyala said this was the only way to mobilise the huge capital required to meet the target under Vision 2030.
Sh982 million was used in investments for the year 2006, indicating that tourism was picking up. Players in the sector have so far invested Sh510 million this year.
“We shall lobby and engage financial institutions like PTA Bank, East Africa Development Bank, African Development Bank and other commercial banks to fund the development of required infrastructure,” he said.
The sector will seek to fund the small and medium enterprises through venture capital.
The workshop, organised by KIA to showcase investment opportunities in the country, noted that tourism had concentrated on specific areas. Consequently, there was need to diversify.
Mr Manyala said the challenge facing the industry was limited classified bed capacity adding that there was need for investors to construct more quality hotels.
It is expected that tourist numbers will reach three million by 2012 from slightly above two million registered in 2007. This translates to 200,000 tourists every year. Bed occupancy levels by 2007 were estimated at 93 per cent from a base of classified 40,000 beds.
Revenues from tourism are expected to triple to Sh180 billion from Sh65 billion reported last year, which translates to Sh23 billion every year.
Mr Manyala said there was need to add value in restaurant economy, conferencing, eco-tourism, health tourism and events like sports to increase the tourist spend.
He said most local hotels offer low quality service, and hence could not be classified.
Tourism has been growing rapidly in the last five years until early this year when it was slowed down by political turmoil that followed disputed presidential election results.