Travel: The pope’s visit to Kenya will boost the tourism sector

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Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives at the end of a Mass celebrated by Brescia's Bishop Luciano Monari, not pictured, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca). image from

Accepting the invitation issued by the respective Heads of State and the Bishops, His Holiness Francis will make an Apostolic Trip to Kenya from 25 to 27 November 2015, Uganda from 27 to 29 November, and the Central African Republic from 29 to 30 November.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development World Investment Report 2015 indicates that Kenya attracted 97.8 billion shillings in foreign direct investments last year.

Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives at the end of a Mass celebrated by Brescia's Bishop Luciano Monari, not pictured, in St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca). image from http://www.mighty1290koil.com/bob-bruce/2015/09/23/the-popes-speech
Pope Francis waves to faithful as he arrives at the end of a Mass celebrated by Brescia’s Bishop Luciano Monari, not pictured, in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Saturday, June 22, 2013. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca). image from http://www.mighty1290koil.com/bob-bruce/2015/09/23/the-popes-speech

This was a 95 percent increase on the 49.9 billion shillings that the country attracted in 2013. The Kenya Investments Authority has projected steady increase in FDIs this year leveraging on the high level events that have accelerated the interest of investors. Such events include the Global Entrepreneurship Summit that happened a few months ago, highlighted by US President Barrack Obama’s visit, the visit by Pope Francis in November, and the World Trade Organization conference in December.

Going back to the visit of the Pope, an article by Msafari shares how Pope Francis has somehow changed the world’s view on some Christian leaders. The Pope has created goodwill towards himself in a manner reserved for very few religious leaders. His pronouncements on mankind’s duty to help the poor and disaffected have been enough to lift him above previous pontiffs. While the church’s stance on many issues has not shifted, his tone has been more conciliatory and less judgemental. The Pope’s mantra is that mercy and grace are the most powerful messages of Jesus Christ. Everywhere Pope Francis has gone he has received a rapturous welcome. From the crowds who attended mass in Cuba to the family that drove all the way from Argentina to see him in the United States. With the excitement already building up, we can expect no less from Kenyans on the 27th of November, the day he arrives. The question remains though will his visit purely be of religious benefit? Most experts seem to agree that is definitely not the case. Some saying his visit may even be more political than religious.

The truth is the Pope’s visit will be of benefit to all Kenyans. As our own Father Joseph put it in Kenyan terms, “Mgeni aje mweyegi apone,” (the presence of a visitor in a home is a blessing to all the householders).

Economically, The Kenyan Tourism Board is also hoping to benefit from the pontiff’s visit. It is interesting to note that apart from leading the global Catholic Church, Pope Francis is the sovereign at Vatican City. The city state sits within the larger city of Rome, which is part of the wider Italian culture. Italy is the twelfth-largest economy in the world, something not to be sniffed at. The Kenyan Tourism Board has its eye on this market. With that said, we may not realize it but Italians love Kenya. Going to the coast, towards Malindi and Kilifi it’s interesting to note that half the tourist population have almost always been Italians. Having the Pope come is also a sign of good faith to his people.

Tourism in Kenya makes up 11 per cent of GDP, and is also responsible for a similar proportion of jobs in the country. It’s easy to see why visits such as that of Pope Francis are important in making a difference in the narrative in Kenya.

Secondly, like President Obama’s visit, the Pope’s visit gives Kenya international recognition. This puts our country on the map to foreign business opportunities, and anyone interested in investing in our country.

Speaking of investing, the Pope’s visit, with him being of such high religious authority will most likely inspire the increase the Catholic Church’s investments into our society, and also increase the chances of investment by anyone associated with the Roman Catholic Church, and the Christian church as a whole.

Over the past year Kenya has gone through a tourism slump due to recent terrorist attacks and this has been hard on the economy. So it is an interesting turn of events, not to mention a blessing that 2015 will forever be remembered as not only the year the President of the United States, Barack Obama, to the place of his father, but also as the year Pope Francis, leader of 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, chose Kenya as the first African country he would visit!

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