“Panari Hotel Senior Management,
Ice Hockey Participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be here today to witness the commencement of the international friendship league ice hockey tournament.Sports tourism is one of the fastest growing sectors in tourism due to the increased number of sporting events being held around the world. Tourists travel to attend popular sporting events and also to compete in the events themselves.The sports tourism market size is a fast-growing sector of the global travel industry which was valued at over 300 million dollars in 2020, and it is projected to reach over 2 billion dollars by 2030, registering a growth 0f more than 16 per cent from 2021 to 2030.
Sports in Kenya is by no means limited to just athletics – visitors to Kenya will have a variety to choose from football, rugby, cricket, polo, water sports, ice hockey to horse racing, which are held throughout the year. These major international sports events bring the world to Kenya each year.The Kenyan government has focused on the growth of different sporting activities to attract more tourists. It has tapped into athletics, golf, rugby, swimming, and Safari rally while diversifying to more innovative sports tourism activities such as ice hockey activities to attract local and international visitors.
Ice Hockey is among the innovative sports tourism activities which are relatively new in Kenya and whose potential has not been fully exploited. Aggressive tourism marketing is, therefore, mandatory to draw more local and international tourists. From this global event that will take place this week, the tourism industry is set to reap from the participants and also present a good opportunity to sell Kenya as an Ice hockey tourism sports destination.
Kenya boasts of having the only ice rink of its kind in East and Central Africa, the Solar Ice Rink, here in Panari.And on that note, let me take this opportunity to thank the Management of Panari and their team for having the foresight and confidence to put up investments of this magnitude here in Kenya.The idea of an ice rink near the equator is still a marvel and the paradox of being solar-powered, essentially making ice from the sun, keeps it in line with our Climate Change goals and of sustainable use of renewable energy resources.As a country, we have the likes of Philip Boit, Sabrina Wanjiku, and the Kenya Ice Lions who have flown our flag high in foreign capitals during the Winter Olympics.
I would like to challenge all of us to inspire the next generation of ice-cool world-beaters who are home grown. Let us put pioneering facilities such as this Ice Rink into good use and encourage domestic sports tourism. If rollers skates and skateboards have found their way into the lexicon of our fun-loving youngsters, the rink too can find a home.
The Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage will develop favorable tourism policies, strategies and regulatory environment to catalyze growth of innovative sports tourism activities such as ice hockey in light of increasing tourist traffic and earnings. Additionally, we will look into ways to partner with the Kenya Ice Lions and the Ministry of Youth Affairs, Sports and the Arts and Kenya Tourism Board to create awareness to the tourism domestic market on the importance of ice hockey for sustainability purposes.
Finally, let us not limit ourselves to having an ice rink only in Nairobi. I would like to encourage hotels in other counties to invest on ice hockey facilities to diversify the market, enhance visitor experience and accommodate the higher demand during tournaments.And to the media present here today, please this accord this story wide coverage so that we can enhance Magical Kenya’s destination attractiveness and competitiveness.
Thank you, and have a good afternoon! “