Hon. Najib Balala, EGH, assumed the position of the Cabinet Secretary, Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife in the 2015 government reshuffle. He moved from the Ministry of Mining where he was appointed as Kenya’s first Minister in May 2013 and is credited with delivering the Draft Mining Bill in 2014, the first policy and institutional framework review of Kenya’s mining sector since 1940. Having also served as Minister for Tourism from April 2008 to March 2012, Hon. Balala holds the record of being the longest serving Minister in the docket. During that tenure, Hon. Balala delivered the Tourism Bill and gave the sector a policy and legal framework geared towards maintaining sustainability.
Hon. Balala has been elected Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organization twice, in 2011 and 2019, where he currently holds the position. In April 2019, he was awarded a World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Global Champion Award at the 2019 Global Summit in Seville, Spain, for his country’s outstanding work on Social Impact. The annual WTTC Global Champion Awards recognize public officials or countries who, through their leadership, have made a difference through unique public policies and initiatives that have increased the competitiveness of the sector within their countries. In 2009, Hon. Balala was voted Best Tourism Minister in Africa by Africa Investor (AI). He is trained in International Urban Management at the University of Toronto, Canada, and underwent the Executive Program for Leaders in Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He is credited with steering Kenya’s tourism sector to recovery following the post-election violence in 2008. He played a significant role in boosting growth and stability in the Kenyan and regional tourism sector, working closely with private and institutional investors, with conservation and regional development agencies to ensure that the economic potential of this vital sector was both prudently and sustainably managed.