Ms. Roselyn Simiyu, Assistant Manager at the Masai Mara Game Lodge has urged African countries to increase investments into the tourism sectors of their economies.
She said it was important that African governments focused on greater investment in and marketing of tourists sites in their respective countries as that would ensure greater number of tourists visiting their countries.
Speaking to some Ghanaian Journalists at the Sarova Mara Game Camp, located in Kenya's world famous Maasai Mara Game Reserve, Ms. Simiyu said tourism, when effectively developed and marketed, had the potential to contribute greatly to the development of nations, through the creation of jobs as well as by bringing in foreign exchange.
She noted that although Africa had beautiful tourists attractions, most of them were not well known, hence the need to invest more into marketing such destinations.
“We are really lagging behind on that front. I urge African governments to put aside more funds for tourism and to market these destinations better, as is done in places like Asia, Europe and other tourist destinations,” she stated.
Ms Simiyu also stressed the importance of investments in tourism infrastructure and facilities such as hotels and transport facilities as these would facilitate the growth of tourism.
She bemoaned the low levels of intra-Africa tourism; saying Africans have taken African destinations for granted, while tourists from western countries flocked into the continent.
Using the annual Wildebeest migration from the Serengeti to the Mara, which is sometimes referred to as the seventh wonder of the world as an example, she challenged Africans to visit tourist sites on the continent, including Kenya.
She debunked claims that the destinations were expensive, adding, “Most people think the destination is expensive, it is not, and you can come at a season that you can afford. Also you can take advantage of early bird prices when you book early,” she said.
Partnership with Kenya Airways
Kenya Airways as the national airline of Kenya plays a very significant role in tourism. The airline is the main transporter of tourists from various parts of the world into Kenya.
Ms. Simiyu said the Sarova Group, which is the second largest hotel chain in Kenya, partnered with KQ in order to bring tourists from other countries into Kenya. Kenya Airways also served as an ambassador of Kenya’s tourists destinations in the various countries it operates, including Ghana while providing direct and affordable means for tourists to get into Kenya.
Security in Kenya
On security in Kenya and its impact on tourism, Ms. Simiyu maintained that although there had been pockets of terrorist incidents in the country, Kenya was still very safe and peaceful as the incidents happened close to the border areas of the country.
She said the fact that the Sarova Mara Game Camp continued to receive international tourists at the full capacity (75 rooms, hosting about 150 people) proved that Kenya was safe for tourism.
She added that the camp, as well as all other hotels in the reserve had gates being manned by security personnel 24 hours each day. It was also surrounded by an electric fence which helped to keep out wild animals from the camp.
Contribution to Kenyan economy
The Sarova group of hotels and game lodges, she noted, contributed a lot to the economy of the country through payments of taxes and job creation. The Group paid almost 30 percent of its profits in taxes to government annually. It also employed over 1500 Kenyans with about 60 percent of the staff at the Sarova Mara being local Maasai people.
Through its Corporate Social Responsibility, the Lodge also offered training to some of the young Maasai who could then find employment elsewhere. It also supports the local school in the community by providing maintenance for the school building.