Kenya’s government has embarked on an ambitious development initiative that will help boost the country’s economic growth in the coming years. The country has capitalized heavily in the development of its famous Standard Gauge Railway, a large-scale wind power project, as well as further investments in its education, healthcare and manufacturing sectors.
Some of these aspects form part of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big Four Development Agenda, a plan to boost economic growth and create employment opportunities for thousands of Kenyans.
Now, Kenya is set to become one of the top five fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa, with a projected rebound in GDP growth to 6% in 2018 and 7% by 2019 according to a hospitality report by leading tourism sector player, Jumia Travel.
Although the country’s economic performance declined to 4.9% in 2017 from 5.8% in 2016, several factors will continue to drive the economy and almost certainly help reach the estimated growth rate. These drivers are among others, enhanced security in Kenya, a steady macroeconomic environment, and most importantly improved infrastructural developments.
According to Jumia Travel’s Josephine Wawira, the country’s tourism industry forms a vital component of the equation, directly contributing Ksh294.6 billion ($2.9 billion) to Kenya’s economy in 2017.
This represents approximately 3.7% of the total GDP, which by end of 2018, is expected rise by 5.2% to reach a whooping Ksh310.1 billion (3.06 million).
In keeping with the United Nations World Trade Organisation’s (UNWTO’s) priority of promoting sustainable tourism, it is no doubt that proper tourism infrastructure is a key metric in measuring the environmental, social, and economic impacts at destinations.
“It can either be a stimulant of tourism destinations’ growth if prudently developed and maintained, or a deterrent if neglected. Appropriate infrastructure including high quality accommodation, unbeatable tour packages and attractions; and primarily transport infrastructure such as roads, rails, air and sea ports, all serve to facilitate seamless travel for tourists both the Kenyan domestic and international traveler,” Wawira explained in a recent address.
Over the years, Kenya has made great milestones in developing sustainable infrastructure including the Standard Gauge Railway whose ongoing network expansion beams a light on tourism destinations, as they brace for accelerated number of visitors not only in Kenya but also across Africa.
Jumia Travel believes this will be made possible by the easy and fast accessibility and connection of one destination to another. Synergies between the government and private stakeholders in refining the country road networks, will go a long way in growing not only the popular but also the less explored destinations.
Wawira explained that if well-handled and by the right people at the helm, then no doubt that even investors will be willing to put their money in destinations possessing greater potential.
“The travelling patterns and dynamics in Kenya are progressively being redesigned,” Wawira added.
In fact, Jumia Travel has found that domestic tourism is growing at a high rate with an international expenditure of 38% and a local expenditure of 62%, especially among the younger Kenyan generation.
“Proper infrastructure is therefore certainly a top priority if Kenya is to continue resonating with tourists as the most preferred travel destination,” Wawira concluded.