Balala: Kenya Open big boost for tourism

Friday December 06 2019

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala (centre) poses for a photo ahead of the first tee-off of the 2019 Magical Kenya Ladies Open at Vipingo Ridge, Kilifi on December 5, 2019. PHOTO | COURTESY


Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the ongoing Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by M-Pesa will boost Kenya’s tourism prospects among global audiences who will be following the tournament on live TV.

Speaking shortly after officially opening the tournament at the PGA Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge on Thursday, Balala said the event displayed Kenya’s vision to continue using sports to profile Kenya as both a tourism, sports and investment destination.

“Golf is growing widely globally, and we appreciate that we can use golf tournaments and golf as a sport to send our message as Kenya both for our products, in terms of beach and safari, and also to put Kenya on the map. That is why we sponsored the Kenya Open this year in Nairobi, and today we are here at the coast to sponsor the Ladies European Tour event,” he said.

“We are excited, and this is very important for us as well because we are using sports as a means to promote the country; not just for tourism, but also to show the country is stable and is moving forward. We want everybody to appreciate sport irrespective of status and irrespective of the cost of playing this game; and also, to encourage the youth and the young people. And because it is a ladies’ tour, we want to recognise that women also are at par in sports in every sense of the word,” he added.

Commenting on the choice of Vipingo Ridge as the venue of East and Central Africa’s first Ladies European Tour event, Balala said:

“First of all, we want to appreciate that finally the Ladies European Tour is in Kenya and we are hosting this at the PGA Course in Vipingo Ridge. We must be proud that Vipingo Ridge has the best golf course in Africa being accredited with the PGA title. So, this is pride to the country.”


The Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by M-Pesa attracted 106 entries from 28 countries, providing Kenya with an opportunity to enhance its profile as both a tourism and investment destination as well as a unique host to international sporting events.

The event is also meant to inspire the girl child in Kenya to pick golf as a sport of choice, and that with determination, training and support Kenyan girls can also excel to the same level as those in Europe and elsewhere in the world.


To give the visiting players an opportunity to experience the country’s tourism offering, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has arranged various trips to Kenya’s award-winning beaches and game parks.

Speaking at the sidelines of the event, KTB CEO, Dr. Betty Radier, said: “We have already, since they came, helped them to visit a conservation initiative that we have that is close to the area. They will have an opportunity, at the end of the tournament, to go on safari in Amboseli. So this allows us to showcase the destination from the perspective that says one can have a beach experience as well as a safari experience within close proximity.”

The event is being broadcasted live, through 14 international broadcasters, to over 200 million viewers across the world who will get to follow action on the course and witness some of Kenya’s key tourism attractions during the coverage.

Kenya’s tourism arrivals hit the 2 million mark in 2018, raking in over Sh157 billion in revenue, and accounting for over 15 per cent of the country’s total exports.

Data from the Kenya Tourism Board indicated that arrivals for the first quarter of 2019 (July-September) are portraying a positive outlook where international arrivals closed at 604,690, compared to same period last year which posted 587,385 arrivals.

According to the Global Golf Tourism Market 2019-2023 report, the global golf tourism market will grow by nearly USD 19.4 billion over the period, making it a ripe segment for countries’ growth.