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One more licence for investors in hotel sector

By | December 23rd 2009

By John Njiraini

Investors in the hospitality industry will from next year be licensed by a new industry regulator before putting up hotels in Kenya.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala said he would put out a legal notice to compel potential investors to apply for a licence from the newly established Hotel and Restaurant Authority (HRA).

A hotel in Kisumu. Investors will be required to fisrt apply for a license before building a hotel. Photo: File

"We want to make it mandatory that any property in the hotel industry has a license. People must first apply for a license before they start building," he said.

The requirement will not only contain the tendency of hotel, lodges and restaurants cropping up haphazardly, but will also improve the standards of facilities and quality of services.

The Minister added that HRA, whose mandate is to regulate the standards of the hospitality industry, would next year begin a nationwide classification exercise of hotels.

Already, the ministry has conducted a training programme for classification assessors based on standards and classification criteria for the East Africa Community. The last time hotels were classified was in 2002.

"Classification of tourism establishments will be used as a marketing tool," said Balala during the inauguration of the HRA board.

Ms Jane Manasseh, an urban planning consultant will chair the board that encompasses players from various sectors.

Payment system

The minister also urged players in the industry to adopt credit card payment system to make it easy for foreign and local tourists to access their facilities.

Balala said although the tourism sector had recovered from the effects of the post-election violence, tourism arrivals and the sector’s earning this year are expected to be below 2007, which remains best year for the industry.

Projections indicate arrivals will be seven per cent below the 2007 mark, while earnings will be 12 per cent less.

In 2007, the sector earned Sh65.4 billion while tourist arrivals stood at two million.

Balala said for the sector to achieve a target of two million arrivals by 2012, Kenya would have to increase the marketing budget from Sh750 million to about Sh3.2 billion.

"We will tell Treasury we need five per cent of what we generate for marketing the destination," he said.

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