Kenya’s hospitality sector has the potential to reap the rewards of its ever-expanding sports travel segment.
Globally, the sports tourism market is a fast-growing sector of the travel industry and equates to Ksh 60.7 trillion (over $600 billion) a year.
Meanwhile, Kenya’s tourism, travel and hospitality sector directly contributed Ksh294.6 billion (over$2.9 billion) to the country’s economy in 2017, which is approximately 3.7% of the GDP; according to the Kenya Hospitality Report.
An emphasis on sports as one of the potentially key tourism products has been clearly demonstrated by the Brand Kenya Board, the state agency mandated to coordinate marketing initiatives for the country.
This was through a recent social media campaign dubbed “Think Tourism” that highlighted the various sports in Kenya which contribute to travel and tourism in the country. In one of its posts, Brand Kenya appreciated the potential of sports in providing enthusiasts with adrenaline filled adventures, while also acknowledging the lack of adequate publicization of sports tourism as a travel package.
And according to leading hospitality sector player, Jumia Travel, Kenya provides well developed golf courses, favorable weather conditions, and conducive business environment for Golf Tourism to thrive.
“With 62% of direct travel and tourism GDP generated from domestic travel spending in 2017 (38% from foreign spending), it is high time golf administrators in Kenya paid closer attention to initiatives that will attract more domestic golf tourists in the coming years,” says Jumia Travel’s Josephine Wawira.
“Besides, the country hosts the only Professional Golfers’ Association (PGA)-approved golf course in East Africa – the Vipingo Ridge Baobab Course. Kenyans expressed avid sentiments about Golf Tourism in Kenya, during the earlier discussed ‘Think Sports’ campaign,” she adds.
Wawira explains that a clear major contribution to the growth of golf tourism all round, is the golfers’ willingness to part with their banknotes for the love of the game.
“This not only covers the courses but also the hospitality services pertaining to the game; including accommodation and sumptuous meals to spice up the placid disposition ahead of the exotic game. With the growing popularity of golf tourism particularly as a form of recreational sport, Golf Clubs doubling up as accommodation facilities across the country are literally capitalizing on this sleeping revenue giant,” Waira elaborates.
From caddies, and maintenance workers, training and instruction managers, equipment maintenance crew, to the entire club management team; the game provides employment for thousands of people across the country. In addition, there are also the employees at onsite restaurants, hotels and other related amenities and services, who are all part of the 1.1 million jobs (9% of total employment) supported by the travel and tourism sector in Kenya in 2017.
Jumia Travel has undoubtedly found that sports tourism is experiencing steady growth in Kenya. The agency has affirmed that destinations and hotels are as a result developing tourism products that incorporate the sports concept such as golf.
Wawira says that in order to accommodate the ever-evolving traveler including the subtle golfer, all tourism stakeholders must work on “consolidating the gains previously earned, the present demands, as well as the budding future of golf tourism and the entire sports tourism in Kenya.”