Mwangi Muthee, CEO, Local Organizing Committee,

Members of the press,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning,

It is a real privilege to be here with you today as we congregate here to officially show our support the upcoming World U18 Championships. On behalf of the Kenya Tourism Board, I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) for honoring our invitation.

I believe that it is the late President of South Africa, Nelson Mandela that once said that “sport has the power to change the world” and indeed, he was and continues to be vindicated by sporting events the world over. Sport possesses the power to break down barriers and bring people together and is one of those elements in human society that creates a common denominator in a world of ever increasing diversity.

Sport is also big business. Not only the lucrative deals made by the world’s top players and their managers, but also because of the millions of sport fans who travel across borders to watch their favorite players and teams; one needs to look no further than the hotly contested bids to host global sporting events as proof of this.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The growth phenomenon of sports tourism over the past ten years should come as no surprise. It was predicted in the mid 1990s when “sports tourism” was referred to as “the sleeping giant of tourism”. This was on the back of the arrival of the new generation of sports stadia often driven by the clamour amongst cities to host globally broadcast mega-sporting events.

There are now over 1.1 billion international tourist arrivals worldwide with The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) predicting that by 2020 this will rise to 1.4 Billion. Tourism now accounts for 9% of global GDP, one in eleven jobs worldwide and has a value of over $US1.5 trillion in exports. Within this extraordinary resilient and multi-faceted industry sports-related tourism is now presenting major opportunities for both emerging and mature destinations (be they nations, regions, cities, coastal, countryside, mountains and deserts). Indeed, many observers regard international sports tourism as being one of the primary reasons for this global growth in tourism.

Ladies and gentlemen,

As many of you know, Kenya features a unique and glorious blend of diverse wildlife, landscapes and cultures that support this sector of our economy, which in addition also gives us a national heritage. It has for a long time been the second largest sector in Kenya’s economy after agriculture, accounting for 21% of total foreign exchange earnings and 12 % of GDP.


However, we at the Kenya Tourism Board are keen to look to alternative ways of growing tourist numbers. We have taken note of the fact that in today’s globalised world, tourism is the world’s number one industry – while sports is regarded as the number one industry in the leisure sector. Moreover, sports is an integral part of all culture, and while often viewed as a separate activity, it is inextricably linked to tourism. Sports can now be viewed as an attraction within the broader tourism industry as it is fast emerging as key source of tourism supply.

The United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that sports tourism is worth $US800bn constituting more than 10% of the international travel and tourism receipts. In some destinations, sports tourism accounts for 25% of all tourism receipts rising to as much as 55% in Australia and parts of New Zealand.


It is for this reason, dear friends, that sports-related tourism can no longer be regarded as a niche sector of tourism. There are now over 1.1bn international tourist arrivals worldwide with UNWTO predicting that by 2020 this will rise to 1.4bn. Tourism accounts for 9% of global GDP, one in eleven jobs worldwide and has a value of over $US1.5 trillion in exports and we regard international sports tourism as one of the primary reasons for this global growth in tourism.


Owing to this, major tourism destinations are developing tourism product concepts revolving around pleasure sports. These concepts enable destinations to stand out amongst their competitors and increasing their competitive edge in the international arena, attracting consumers who are keen on getting in touch with nature, and interacting with the community to enjoy more healthy and interactive holiday


Dear friends,

Our athletes continue to put Kenya on the map and I cannot think of better ambassadors for our nation. As the defending champions World U18 Championships, they have continued to prove to the world that Kenya has the finest distance runners on the planet; with victories in all the World Marathon Majors Series races of 2017. Our athletes reigned in Tokyo last February as well as April’s Boston and London marathons.


Our country’s impeccable weather conditions – which favour long-distance running – have drawn professional athletes such as Great Britain’s legend Paula Radcliffe, multiple World and Olympic champion Mo Farah alongside USA’s top woman marathoner Desire Linden and the national teams of Turkey, Qatar, Bahrain, China, Great Britain, among others – who have all serially pitched camp in Kenya’s North Rift region in search of the Kenyan magic.


Dear friends,

The IAAF World U18 Championships will afford Kenya the opportunity to host more than 2,000 athletes from more than 130 countries from varied parts of the world. Furthermore, the World U18 Championships will cast a spotlight on our country to a global audience as it will host more than 300 local and international media. We see this as a grand opportunity to showcase our country.


The upcoming IAAF World U18 Championships are a catalyst for economic and urban renewal, which in turn allow for development of both capacity and destination attraction for tourism. The subject of urban regeneration can become a focal point of sport tourism legacy as it enables the host city – in this case Nairobi – to develop or enhance both amenities and social needs for the benefit of the community and the surrounding population.


In the spirit of sustainability, The IAAF, in conjunction with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), has designed a community legacy project that will run alongside the Championship event. The “Track Tree Challenge” – seeks to catalyze the youth momentum and cognizance towards better environment management.


The goal of the project is to raise environmental consciousness among 100,000 youth as future environmental stewards by inspiring them to establish tree nurseries and plant trees in schools and selected forests in the month of June 2017. The initiative will further seek to support 50 students to attend the 10th Edition of the World under 18 Championships. Sponsoring a school for just one day will have a significant impact on the student life. It will offer them encouragement, inspiration and recognition. In the month of June 2017, the school children are currently engaged in the community legacy initiative by planting 100,000 trees in Donduri forest and in their respective schools to increase the tree cover in Kenya and with the hope that a corporate or an individual will sponsor them to attend this major event in Nairobi.


To accomplish this noble mission, the LOC has partnered with the Green Belt Movement and the Kenya Tourism Board is proud to be associated with this initiative as 2017 is the International Year of Sustainability.


In closing,

I wish to thank the LOC for their commitment to this notable event. With those few remarks, I humbly offer our sponsorship for the World U18 Championships Thank you.

CEO's corner





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