Kenya’s hospitality industry is expected to get new players as the tourism sector brings in more international hotel brands to increase the quality of services.
Industry players say the brands lined up for admission include Kempinski, Sheraton, Marriott and the Accor Group of France. Some of the major international hotel brands in Kenya include the Hilton, Intercontinental, Serena, and Fairmont group which recently bought into Kenya’s Lonrho hotels.
“The presence of international hotels should help boost confidence in Kenya as a world class tourist destination,” said Mike Macharia of the Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers. International hotel brands have their loyal following, mostly made up of upscale clients that Kenya hopes to attract. “The more recognizable the brands the easier it will be to attract high value tourists,” said Rose Kwena of Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).
By 2012, the industry hopes to bring in 3 million visitors annually up from the 1.8 million last year. A steady rise in the number of tourist arrivals has exposed the shortage of bed space in key destinations such as Nairobi setting the stage for rapid expansion. Over the past 12 months most hotels have been expanding their facilities and opening up new ones to fill this capacity gap.
Kempinksi Hotels, Europe’s oldest hotel chain, owns luxury hotels in all continents. Founded in Germany in 1872, Kempinksi has grown from a single hotel to 187 hotels in 130 destinations across 37 countries in Europe, Middle East, Africa, South America and Asia. Neighbouring Tanzania, Djibouti and Rwanda already have the Kempinski brand despite having smaller tourism industries than Kenya.
The Accor Group of hotels which boasts 4,000 hotels worldwide from budget to luxury is one of the brands poised to come to Kenya. Sheraton hotels and resorts is also in the list of big names the ministry would like to see come to Kenya. In East Africa, Sheraton is already established in Uganda and Ethiopia
Local investors who hold the biggest percentage of facilities in the industry are also welcoming the new drive. “Improved marketing will be good for all in the industry,” said Mr Macharia.
Local investors are expected to effectively compete with these brands and in the process improve their services.
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