NAIROBI, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- Kenya has lauded Chinese investment in the hotel industry, stating that it would increase bed occupancy especially at this time when the country is experiencing a revamp in the tourism industry.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Ruth Solitei said Wednesday in Nairobi during the launch of the 2013 Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) that some Chinese-owned Hotels situated in Nairobi have increased occupancy and conferencing levels in the hospitality industry.
Solitei welcomed more investors in the tourism sector with a promise of growth and return for investments, which she said can be evidenced by the recent tourism performance which recorded growth in the last four years.
"The potential is even higher as the sector is internationally projected to be a leading future international service industry where Africa ranks 4th in the market share with approximated growth rate of over five percent."
Tourism is Kenya's most important industry, after agriculture. According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), it is responsible for 14 percent of GDP and 12 percent of total employment.
It is also a sector that WTTC predicts will continue to grow at 3.7 percent per annum for the next decade.
Economic drivers include the country's fantastic natural tourism resources, such as beautiful beaches and spectacular wildlife, including the opportunity to see "the big five", Elephant, Rhino, Lion, Buffalo, and the Leopard in their natural habitat.
Kenya's hospitality industry has been eager to capitalize on the favorable tourism outlook. Research by W Hospitality reveals that the country's hotel pipeline has more than doubled in the past year from 5 hotels with 771 rooms under development in 2012 to 11 hotels with 1,469 rooms in 2013.
Chinese multi-national companies are active in Kenya in the sectors of food production, engineering and construction, communication, telecommunications, aviation and motor vehicle manufacturing.
Several Chinese manufacturers are already setting up local production plants in Kenya, thereby shifting from the previous strategy where they supplied the domestic consumer market from China.
Statistics by the Kenya Investment Authority shows that at least 18 Chinese companies established business in Nairobi in the past two years targeting diverse markets such as footwear and electronics.