Kenya and sports tourism on a winning streak

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The venue was the KCOM stadium in Hull where the Premiership side fielded only 5 of their top players, giving reservists the chance to show their mettle in a friendly match against Kenya’s best players.

A Kenyan all-star football team may have lost last night against Premiership side Hull City by two goals to one, but Brand Kenya and Kenya Tourism gained big time through the exposure gained from the match.

The game was made possible by SportPesa, Kenya Airways, and the Kenya Tourism Board which brought the Kenyan team to the UK.


Said Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala, ahead of the match:

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I am excited to be part of this historic event involving football teams from Kenya and the United Kingdom. I congratulate Sportpesa, through its CEO Ronald Karauri, for making this day possible. I also thank the Kenya Tourism Board and our national carrier, Kenya Airways for supporting the Sportpesa AllStars. This initiative plays a key role in enhancing our larger country brand.

I extend my gratitude to the Hull City team, staff and fraternity for being great hosts to our boys, who are showcasing their football talent with courage and fortitude. Your work ethic and dedication to perfecting your craft is not lost on us. I assure you that all Kenyans stand with you today.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We visit Hull City at a time when the city has been identified as the United Kingdom’s City of Culture in 2017 – an initiative that enables Hull to not only maximize on the impact of cultural regeneration, but affords this great city an opportunity to breathe fresh air into the City’s tourism and hotel occupancy numbers. Moreover, hosting the United Kingdom City of Culture in 2017 will enable Hull to deliver a transformational opportunity for the next generation of young people and allow it to share the incredible talent that exists across the city, as well as open it up it to new experiences.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

For this reason, I cannot help but draw parallels and commonalities between efforts to expand the tourism industry in this great city and our efforts to do the same in Magical Kenya – a mandate that my Ministry continues to embrace with zeal, enthusiasm and dedication.

As many of you know, Kenya features a unique and glorious blend of diverse wildlife, landscapes and cultures that support this sector of our economy. It is the second largest sector in Kenya’s economy after agriculture, accounting for 21% of total foreign exchange earnings and 12 % of GDP.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

My ministry is keen to look to alternative ways of growing tourist numbers. We have taken note of the fact that in today’s globalised world, tourism is the world’s number one industry – while sports is regarded as the number one industry in the leisure sector. Moreover, sports are an integral part of all culture, and while often viewed as a separate activity, it is inextricably linked to tourism. Sports can now be viewed as an attraction within the broader tourism industry, as it is fast emerging as key source of tourism supply.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that sports tourism is worth $US800bn, constituting more than 10% of the international travel and tourism receipts. In some destinations, sports tourism accounts for 25% of all tourism receipts, rising to as much as 55% in Australia and parts of New Zealand. It is for this reason, dear friends, that sports-related tourism can no longer be regarded as a niche sector of tourism. There are now over 1.1bn international tourist arrivals worldwide, with UNWTO predicting that by 2020 this will rise to 1.4bn. Tourism accounts for 9% of global GDP, one in eleven jobs worldwide and has a value of over $US1.5 trillion in exports.


Ladies and Gentlemen,

Owing to this, major tourism destinations are developing tourism product concepts revolving around pleasure sports. Kenya’s national anthem is probably one of the most sang tunes in international athletics championships, Kenyans are well-known marathoners and, more recently, Kenya’s prowess in Rugby has come into the international arena. Kenya continues to grow this strength by playing host to international athletes, who visit our country to train in the high altitude areas in Iten, Eldoret. A town that is easily accessible by air and by road.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Sports Tourism events, such as today’s match between our Sportpesa AllStars and Hull City, are a catalyst for economic and urban renewal, which in turn allow for development of both capacity and destination attraction for tourism. The subject of urban regeneration can become a focal point of sport tourism legacy, as it enables the host city to develop or enhance both amenities and social needs for the benefit of the community and the surrounding population.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Lastly, let me take this opportunity to congratulate the 10 lucky winners who will get a chance to choose a friend to accompany them to savor Kenya’s magic. I can confirm that you will be treated to a week of an experience that you have not had anywhere else. Right from Nairobi – a modern city that offers a variety of activities, to an authentic safari at the famed Maasai Mara and finally a treat to the warm pristine beaches in the southern coast of Kenya. We look forward to hosting you.

Finally, Ladies and Gentlemen, I extend an invitation to all Hull City players, staff and fraternity – and indeed all citizens of the United Kingdom – to visit Magical Kenya. I think that a rematch would not only be momentous, but will be a great source of entertainment for football fans in Kenya and the United Kingdom.

With those few remarks, I wish both teams the best of luck.

Thank you.

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Kenya’s tourism industry, said to be anxious that the upcoming elections may throw a spanner into the works of the recovery tourism marketing programs, has pulled out all stops to alleviate concerns in the country’s main tourism source markets. This initiative, ahead of ITB 2017, is seen as a measure to build good will in a market which fell into second place in 2016 when the US overtook the UK in arrival numbers.

Kenya’s Tourism Board has also embarked on a vigorous campaign to increase both domestic and regional travel, after Uganda came up in fourth place of tourist source countries with many Uganda-based expatriate visitors taking advantage now of visa-free travel under Interstate Pass arrangements when traveling to the Kenya coast.