National hospitality training college set for completion in July next year

A section of Ronald Ngala Utalii College under construction at Vipingo in Kilifi County on July 15, 2020. [Omondi Onyango,Standard]

Ronald Ngala Utalii College (RNUC) - Kenya's second national hospitality institute - whose completion has been delayed for over a decade owing to funding woes is set for completion by July 2023.

Speaking during a site visit to the facility over the weekend, Tourism Fund (TF) Board Chairman Alfonse Kioko said the training college will admit 3,000 students once completed.

"We are banking on full support from the new government to avail funds required to complete the college and launch it. Its completion and operationalisation are timely as Kenya's tourism recovers from Covid-19 which devastated the economy and led to a business slowdown across the world," Kioko said.

Kioko was accompanied by RNUC project works resident engineer Paul Mwai, clerk of works Joseph Mkare and TF Coast Regional Manager John Mutua.

He said the TF board is optimistic that the new government will give support to the facility by funding and oversight it to ensure the college, which has delayed opening for over a decade is completed.

Kioko said that for Kenya to fully tap into Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (Mice) tourism, it must have adequate trained manpower.

This is even as his board engages the new Tourism CS Peninah Malonza. Former Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Coast branch chairman Titus Kangagi said the institute would ensure a steady flow of trained manpower to hospitality facilities with local talent being tapped to work onboard cruise liners, overseas hotels and even airlines. [Philip Mwakio]

Mr Kioko said the college, which sits on a 40-acre land is being built to international standards with its iconic architectural designs and will offer full tourism courses including Blue Economy and marine-related training, where cruise line staff can also be trained before they embark on sea journeys.

Another 20-acre parcel near the ocean is set to have a five-star hotel built on it.

''We are looking at a college which will attract both local and international students with locals paying much lesser fees than their international colleagues which is the norm in all international learning institutions," Kioko said.

"We are keen to ensure that RNUC also partners with reputable hospitality colleges in Switzerland, the UK and France in a bid to professionalise courses on offer."

Mr Kioko alluded to the fact that the job profiles in the hospitality industry worldwide are changing and the 50-plus-year-old Kenya Utalii College (KUC) will not be able to contain the ever-changing needs due to capacity constraints hence RNUC comes in handy in complementing what KUC has been able to achieve as Kenya's premier hospitality training college.

Kioko said that for Kenya to fully tap into Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions tourism, it must have adequately trained manpower trained on how to host, organise and conduct meetings and RNUC could have a unit offering such training.