Kenya, through the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife, recently launched a new Tourism Strategy (2021 – 2025) which will guide the growth of the country’s hospitality sector over the next five years and diversify offerings away from safari traditional and the beach which have been the mainstay.
A key part of the plan is to make Kenya a multi-commodity destination with diversified offerings, to enable it to have a competitive advantage over its neighbors and other emerging destinations and subsequently to diversify influx of tourists from traditional European and North American markets. , to emerging sources such as India and China.
As the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Najib Balala, puts it, for Kenya’s tourism sector to thrive and deliver the expected potential, “we have to invest, we have to innovate, and we will derive our revenue from that innovation”.
It is in the realization that the tourism sub-sector is a dynamic and competitive industry that requires the ability to constantly adapt to the changing needs and desires of customers, since their satisfaction, safety and enjoyment are the most important factors. more important.
The new strategy could not have been launched at a better time, with the country’s hospitality sector rebounding from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, as evidenced by the 53.29% growth in international visitor arrivals to 870,465 in 2021, compared to 567,848 in 2020.
According to the Tourism Research Institute, over the same period, bed occupancy rates recorded a recovery of 60.7% to 4,138,821 from 2,575,812 in 2020.
This year, industry players are optimistic that recovery efforts will continue and expect international arrivals to exceed one million visitors, given the many initiatives the government is implementing to ensure the recovery of the hospitality industry.
Similarly, players in the assisted living sector or the aparthotel sub-sector are poised to see tremendous growth in bed occupancy rates as masses have been vaccinated and restrictions on international trips have been relaxed.
This sub-sector, which has recently grown in popularity, driven by visitors seeking authentic experiences at an affordable cost, is set to transform with the entry of international branded aparthotel operators. offering high-end services and international standards.
Currently, there is a shortage of this type of product attracting multinational corporations and discerning business travelers looking for cost-effective alternatives to traditional short-term hotel accommodation.
Unfortunately, the sub-sector is flooded with several operators offering poor services and questionable maintenance standards, which ultimately affects the reputation of the hospitality industry.
These operators are unlikely to attract the many multinationals that have set up their African headquarters in Kenya and are therefore seeking long-term five-star accommodation for their staff and families seconded to the country for periods ranging from three months to a year. .
This clientele prefers recognized brands that do not compromise on standards and service offerings. And it is for this reason that operators of internationally branded aparthotels such as Somerset Westview Nairobi, Radisson and JW Marriot of Ascott have set up residences in Nairobi.
International branded aparthotels are also particularly suitable for people who are less likely to buy or commit to long-term rentals, as they need flexibility and convenience in their day-to-day activities. These visitors often need affordable temporary accommodations, and extended-stay aparthotel managed services offer a convenient solution.
Even though the idea of internationally branded aparthotels is still new in Kenya, the demand for this type of extended stay accommodation is expected to increase as the country’s economy continues to grow and develop. This highlights the opportunities for international operators to enter into partnerships with local developers to foster and improve the quality of extended stay accommodation offers in Kenya.
Vijayasekar is the Managing Director of Somerset Westview Nairobi [email protected]