NAIROBI, KENYA: The tourism sector on Tuesday got a major boost as President Uhuru Kenyatta opened two international hotels and laid the foundation stone for the tallest building in Africa.
The Nairobi hotels which were officially opened by the President are the Park Inn in Westlands with a bed capacity of 140 managed by Radisson Hotel and Lazizi Premier with a bed capacity of 144 which is the first luxurious airport hotel in Kenya.
The President also laid the foundation stone for the Pinnacle Tower, a 70 storey building which will be the tallest tower in Africa.
The Pinnacle's two towers in Nairobi's Upper Hill area will offer stylish commercial offices, luxury apartments and a five star Hilton Hotel, joined together by a three storey shopping mall and entertainment center.
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Speaking during the functions, President Kenyatta lauded the new investments saying it would not only create job opportunities for Kenyans but also change the skyline of Nairobi.
He assured investors of his Government's commitment to creating an enabling environment to ensure the flow of investment into the country.
"We shall endeavor to partner with the private sector to create jobs for the youth. What we want is jobs for our people," said President Kenyatta when he opened the Park Inn Hotel in Westlands Nairobi.
While laying the foundation stone for Africa's tallest building, President Kenyatta pointed out that the massive investment is a clear demonstration that Kenya's tourism is moving towards full recovery, after going through a depressed period.
"Your choice to invest in Kenya is, indeed, a clear vote of confidence in the policy reforms we have been implementing in the recent past to make Kenya attractive and competitive and to reposition our tourism sector," said the President.
He assured of his Administration's commitment to taking extra measures to reposition the sector and reclaim its position as the country's top earner as was in the past.
He pointed out that, in light of the contribution tourism has made to the country's economy and livelihoods of citizens, his administration has put in place incentives to boost the sector.
Measures taken by the Government include VAT exemption for Park Fees, Reduction in park entry fees from $90 t0 $60 and VAT exemption for Commission of the Tour Operators.
The Government has also introduced Charter Incentive Programme and Air Passengers subsidy ($30 rebates per passenger), Tourism Recovery Fund which was allocated over Sh5 billion in the last 3 years and establishment of a tourism promotion fund among others.
The President expressed gratitude that the measures taken are now bearing fruit as the sector is now on the recovery path.
"And more encouraging, its future outlook is, indeed, bright as evidenced by opening of this new hotel facility," said the President.
While opening the Lazizi Premier, the first luxurious hotel at the Jomo Kenyatta International Hotel, President Kenyatta said the investment is a clear sign that the tourism sector is rebounding.
He challenged Government functionaries to facilitate the private sector to create more jobs by providing the necessary basic infrastructure such as roads, electricity and water.
"Ours is to create infrastructure, we should make sure that the airport connects with the railway and the port to create the airport city," said the President.
"We are supposed to be facilitators and not impediments of development," he added.
Others who spoke were Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, Chairman of AMS properties Anil Samani, Chairman of Hass Petroleum and White Lotus Group Abdi Nassir and the Chairman and proprietor of the Lazizi Premier Kiran Patel among others.