Mr. Balala noted that while the number of foreign tourists increased from 1,342,899 in 2016 to 1,474,671 in 2017, the country has a potential of attracting many more tourists if hotel infrastructure and customer service is improved.
“The biggest challenge that we have as an industry is security. Our porous border with Somalia is also a concern for our visitors. However the situation is normalising. The reason why Tanzania did better than us in 2017 is because their hotels are brand new and modern while our hotels are 40 years old,” he said during an interview on a local TV programme.
He stated that the government has engaged the hoteliers and agreed on the standards needed to attain the government’s goals as it targets to attract to attract 2.5 million tourists per year by 2022.
“People are not just coming because they want a hotel bed around them. They want activities around their vacation. They want to feel the experience. They don’t want to come to the airport and be harassed by an immigration officer or a taxi driver or go to a hotel with substandard service,” added the CS.
Kenya's tourism sector recorded a 20.3 per cent growth last year to post earnings of Ksh120 billion ($1.2 billion) despite the long electioneering period. This is an improvement from the Ksh99.69 billion ($989 million) earned in 2016.
Mr Balala has rallied tourism stake holders to focus on their product offering to ensure the country maximizes on tourism earnings.