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Kenya seeks to green hospitality sector in 2018   

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- Kenya has set aside 1 million U.S. dollars in the current financial year to green the hospitality sector, the tourism investment promotion agency said on Tuesday.

Jonah Orumoi, Managing Director of Tourism Finance Corporation (TFC), told journalists in Nairobi that the energy efficiency facility will be used to finance solar energy, water treatment and recycling plants for the tourism sector.

“Our aim is to ensure that the tourism sector is sustainable so that it doesn’t contribute to the destruction of the natural habitat or environmental degradation,” Orumoi said during the launch of the 2018 Kenya Hospital Report by Jumia Travel.

In order to encourage the hospitality sector to embrace green technology, he said TFC will extend the credit facility at concessional rates.

Orumoi said that the loans will be advanced to tourism facilities to enable them to reduce the amount of energy required to provide products and services.

He added that they are targeting to green 20 hotels by the end of the year. The official noted that the tourism sector has been slow to embrace green technologies due to the perception that it is a capital intensive venture.

In 2017, the Energy Regulatory Commission made it a requirement for all commercial buildings to install solar water heating systems in order to promote environmental conservation.

Orumoi said that the use of green hotels is one of the strategies that Kenya is using to increase number of international visitors as there are a growing number of tourists who seek out eco-friendly hotels in order to reduce their carbon foot print.

Norah Ratemo, Head of Credit at the TFC said the organization has allocated 3.8 million dollars to extend financial assistance to the hotel sector in 2018, up from 3.75 million dollars in 2017 in order to promote development and expansion of new hotels in the country.

“For hotelier to qualify for the funding they must meet equity participation of at least 30 percent of the project out of which 10 percent must be in liquid cash,” he said.

According to TFC, the level of capital investment in tourism and travel sector from the private sector hit approximately 90 million U.S. dollars in 2017.

The tourist body has been tasked by the national development blue print, Vision 2030 to develop 65,000 beds by 2030.

Ratemo said that they are also keen to partner with Chinese investors in order to expand tourism sector, noting that Kenya can borrow expertise from Chinese in the construction of modern hotels in order to attract more visitors.

She said that Chinese themed hotels could help to lure more Asian travelers as the country focuses to diversifying tourism source markets and move away from dependence on the western nations.

According to the ministry of tourism, the sector’s earnings increased from 997 million dollars in 2016 to 1.2 billion dollars in 2017.

The number of international visitor arrivals also increased by 8.1 percent to 1.4 million tourists in 2017.

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