WRC Safari Rally Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kimathi (center) flanked by Nakuru Governor Lee Kinyanjui (right) and Nakuru CEC Trade Raymond Komen (left) addressing the press at Nakuru county Headquarters on May 25, 2021. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]
For the first time in almost two decades, World Rally Championship (WRC) is coming back to Kenya in June bringing fortunes to the country, especially the hospitality sector.
Kenya will be the only country in Africa to host one of the 12-events circuit of WRC 2021 taking place across the globe between January and November, with Kenya hosting the sixth event.
The event governed and organised by Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) will take place in Naivasha between June 24 and June 27.
WRC Safari Rally Chief Executive Officer Phineas Kimathi met with Governor Lee Kinyanjui and deliberated on the ongoing preparations.
“This sporting activity with over 5,000 guests will pump over Sh6 billion in our economy. This injection will trickle down to the lowest of businesses in the area around where the event will take place,” said Kimathi.
Kimathi who also chairs the Kenya Motor Sports Federation (KMSF) said the preparations were on top gear lauding President Uhuru Kenyatta for engaging FIA to bring back the world event to Kenya.
“Only two countries outside Europe, Kenya and Japan, are hosting the event. We are glad the President took the initiative of pushing to have the event come back to Kenya after nineteen years,” said Kimathi.
Governor Kinyanjui described the event as a shot in the arm for the hospitality industry which has been on its knees since the Covid-19 pandemic hit the country last year.
“This will be a big win for our hotels most of which are nearly fully booked for the days during which the event will take place,” said Kinyanjui.
The governor added that the event will rekindle the fun Kenyans were treated with during the Easter holidays every year up to 2002 when the last event was held in the country.
“We expect it to be fun and involving as we witness this global event again. Our young children only hear of the great memories we had and they now have an opportunity to experience it,” he said.
He urged tours and travel companies to capitalise on the event and come up with packages that will encourage the visitors to tour various tourist attraction sites in the county.
“Nakuru is one of the most scenic counties. The area selected has Eburru Mountains, conservancies, lakes and parks with excellent hospitality facilities. Stakeholders in the sector should not let go of this opportunity,” said Kinyanjui, adding that all precautions had been put in place to curb spread of Covid-19.
Monaco hosted the first event in January followed by Finland in February, Croatia in April and Portugal in May. Italy will host the event early next month.
The event will later proceed to Estonia, Belgium, Greece, Finland, Spain and end in Japan on November 14.