Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has been awarded the World Travel and Tourism Council Global Champion Award at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, Spain, for his work in Kenya on social impact by engaging communities in tourism affairs.
The annual World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Champion Awards recognize public officials or countries that have made a difference through unique public policies and initiatives that have increased the competitiveness of tourism.
“Travel & Tourism has proven to drive economic growth, create jobs and boost social inclusion,” Ms Gloria Guevara, President and CEO, WTTC said.
“I am delighted to recognise the work of Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife from the Government of Kenya, Hon. Najib Balala, in promoting community-based tourism as a way of allowing local people to more effectively engage with tourism issues and promoting youth activities in wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship.”
Mr Balala said the award is not only a win for the ministry, tourism and wildlife sectors, but an endorsement of Magical Kenya’s efforts towards sustainability and ensuring that both directly benefit local communities, “who are the custodians and stewards of both our tourism and wildlife resources.”
Balala was in 2017 re-appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife.
In his citation, Guevara noted that Mr Balala was in 2017 re-appointed as Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife by President Uhuru Kenyatta, the third time he was being entrusted with the tourism docket, due to his vast knowledge and experience in this field with additional responsibility of taking care of Kenya’s national heritage of wildlife.
She said Mr Balala is one of the longest-serving CS in Kenya, with 13 years experience as a minister serving in different portfolios – eight of them tourism.
In 2018, Kenya’s travel and tourism sector grew 5.6% to contribute Ksh790 billion and 1.1 million jobs to the Kenyan economy. This rate of growth is faster than the global average of 3.9% and the Sub-Saharan Africa average of 3.3%.
This makes Kenya the third largest tourism economy in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa and Nigeria, both of which grew substantially less than Kenya in 2018.
In total, international tourists spent over Ksh157 billion in Kenya last year, accounting for over 15% of total exports. The largest inbound international markets were the USA (11%); UK (9%); India (6%); China (4%); and Germany (4%). Combined with domestic spending, travel and tourism supported 8.8% of the nation’s GDP in 2018.
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