Kenya’s tourism industry is expected to grow at an annual average of six per cent over the next decade.
The country's travel and tourism's GDP is projected to grow at six per cent annually over the next 10 years, as the total economy grows at 5.9 per cent, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WITC) Benchmarking Report 2017.
The projected growth is quicker than automotive manufacturing at 4.3 per cent and agriculture sector at 5.1 per cent.
The WTTC report shows that travel and tourism industry is larger than mining, chemicals manufacturing and automotive manufacturing combined.
The economic value of the business and leisure travel sector, which is 10 per cent of Kenya's GDP, is almost the same size as Kenya’s banking sector, the report shows.
On employment, travel and tourism directly supports nearly three times as many jobs as the banking sector and more than twice as many jobs as the financial services sector in the country.
The report shows that 1.1 million direct, indirect and induced jobs were supported by the industry in 2016, or 9.2 per cent of the country’s total employment.
“These figures show that the tourism sector is not only a major engine to economic growth in Kenya, but it is also a creator of jobs,” said David Scowsill, president and chief executive officer of WTTC.
“In Kenya, as in other countries, travel and tourism provides jobs across all levels of society and from the most remote rural areas to the busiest city centre.”
The report by WTTC indicates that Kenya will need another 500,000 people to serve the travel and tourism industry over the next 10 years.
In the face of the forecast, Mr Scowsill added: “In order for our sector to continue to boost the economy and livelihoods in Kenya, it is important to address the anticipated talent shortage.”
“We depend on quality people to deliver a quality product to our customers,” the WTTC boss said.
He said right policies, programmes and partnerships need to be put into place to ensure that Kenya’s workforce of the future know about the opportunities in the industry.
Mr Scowsill added that appropriate skills and knowledge in the workforce would support future growth of the sector.
“Kenya is a beautiful country with a great tourism product and I call on the Kenyan government to continue to invest in the travel and tourism sector to foster the growth and further explore the great socio-economic benefits our sector has to offer,” he said.
Countries researched in the study by WTTC included the United Kingdom, the United States, Germany, France, China, South Africa, Kenya, Russia, Saudi Arabia, India, Singapore, Argentina and Canada.
Others were Turkey, Jamaica, Thailand, Spain, South Korea, Italy, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brazil, Australia, the United Arab Emirates, Peru, Japan and Mexico.
The WTTC benchmarking report is published every two years and is sponsored by American Express.
Travel and tourism is a key driver for investment and economic growth globally.
The sector contributes $7.6 trillion or 10.2 per cent of global GDP, once all direct, indirect and induced impacts are taken into account, according to WTTC’s annual produced economic impact report.
The industry also accounts for 292 million jobs or one in 10 of all jobs on the planet.