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Balala: Kenya Open big boost for tourism

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LARRY NGALA

By LARRY NGALA
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Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said the ongoing Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by M-Pesa will boost Kenya’s tourism prospects among global audiences who will be following the tournament on live TV.

Speaking shortly after officially opening the tournament at the PGA Baobab Course at Vipingo Ridge on Thursday, Balala said the event displayed Kenya’s vision to continue using sports to profile Kenya as both a tourism, sports and investment destination.

“Golf is growing widely globally, and we appreciate that we can use golf tournaments and golf as a sport to send our message as Kenya both for our products, in terms of beach and safari, and also to put Kenya on the map. That is why we sponsored the Kenya Open this year in Nairobi, and today we are here at the coast to sponsor the Ladies European Tour event,” he said.

“We are excited, and this is very important for us as well because we are using sports as a means to promote the country; not just for tourism, but also to show the country is stable and is moving forward. We want everybody to appreciate sport irrespective of status and irrespective of the cost of playing this game; and also, to encourage the youth and the young people. And because it is a ladies’ tour, we want to recognise that women also are at par in sports in every sense of the word,” he added.

Commenting on the choice of Vipingo Ridge as the venue of East and Central Africa’s first Ladies European Tour event, Balala said:

“First of all, we want to appreciate that finally the Ladies European Tour is in Kenya and we are hosting this at the PGA Course in Vipingo Ridge. We must be proud that Vipingo Ridge has the best golf course in Africa being accredited with the PGA title. So, this is pride to the country.”

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The Magical Kenya Ladies Open presented by M-Pesa attracted 106 entries from 28 countries, providing Kenya with an opportunity to enhance its profile as both a tourism and investment destination as well as a unique host to international sporting events.

The event is also meant to inspire the girl child in Kenya to pick golf as a sport of choice, and that with determination, training and support Kenyan girls can also excel to the same level as those in Europe and elsewhere in the world.

To give the visiting players an opportunity to experience the country’s tourism offering, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has arranged various trips to Kenya’s award-winning beaches and game parks.

Speaking at the sidelines of the event, KTB CEO, Dr. Betty Radier, said: “We have already, since they came, helped them to visit a conservation initiative that we have that is close to the area. They will have an opportunity, at the end of the tournament, to go on safari in Amboseli. So this allows us to showcase the destination from the perspective that says one can have a beach experience as well as a safari experience within close proximity.”

The event is being broadcasted live, through 14 international broadcasters, to over 200 million viewers across the world who will get to follow action on the course and witness some of Kenya’s key tourism attractions during the coverage.

Kenya’s tourism arrivals hit the 2 million mark in 2018, raking in over Sh157 billion in revenue, and accounting for over 15 per cent of the country’s total exports.

Data from the Kenya Tourism Board indicated that arrivals for the first quarter of 2019 (July-September) are portraying a positive outlook where international arrivals closed at 604,690, compared to same period last year which posted 587,385 arrivals.

According to the Global Golf Tourism Market 2019-2023 report, the global golf tourism market will grow by nearly USD 19.4 billion over the period, making it a ripe segment for countries’ growth.

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Europe beckons for South African rugby after Kiwi snub

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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Jul 20World Cup-winning Springbok Schalk Brits believes the future of South African rugby lies in Europe after New Zealand said there was no room for sides from the republic in Super Rugby.

“All of this jet lag and flying across different time zones just does not work,” said the hooker who retired after the triumphant 2019 World Cup campaign.

“We have got so many South Africans playing in Europe and it would be awesome to see them in action here for European clubs.”

With New Zealand favouring a trans-Tasman Super Rugby competition, South Africa Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux will address the media Tuesday about the way forward.

There has been no rugby in South Africa since mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic, which claimed 5,033 lives by late Sunday, the most in an African country.

Here, AFP Sport looks at the possibilities for the world champions Springboks and Super Rugby teams the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers.

Rugby Championship

There has been speculation that the six-round annual tournament will be cut to four matches with New Zealand and Australia playing in South Africa only every second year.

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That would be a huge blow for SA Rugby coffers as the century-old rivalry with the All Blacks makes them a huge drawcard.

South Africa might consider abandoning the Championship and pursuing a suggestion by former All Blacks Justin Marshall and Jeff Wilson for three-Test tours between the great rivals.

“British and Irish Lions tours are so successful because we look forward to them,” noted another ex-All Black, John Kirwan. The same could be said of an All Blacks-Springboks series.

‘Seven Nations’

Should South African franchises move north, would the Springboks follow suit and apply to join England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales in a ‘Seven Nations’ championship?

Having the world champions on board would surely excite the organisers and costs would be greatly reduced if the Springboks played their three away matches on consecutive weekends.

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England, Ireland, France and Wales, in particular, would bring freshness for rugby followers, who have not rushed to the turnstiles for Championship visits by Australia and Argentina.

Ask the SA Rugby treasurer for his ‘dream’ line-up and he would surely say a multi-Test tour by the All Blacks and participation in the ‘Seven Nations’.

Super Rugby

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Although not official yet, the reality is that New Zealand want to play some Australian sides and the Pacific Islands in a new competition while excluding South Africa and Argentina.

The original version, a Super 10 between 1993 and 1995, was a superb competition, but constant tinkering and expansion has led to waning interest in a difficult-to-follow event.

Even those supporting the Golden Lions of South Africa could not have derived too much satisfaction from a 94-7 thrashing of Japanese visitors the Sunwolves three years ago.

South Africa sides often battled with time differences in Australasia — New Zealand is 11 hours ahead of the republic — and were weary after four-match tours.

‘Pro16’

Pro14 chief executive Martin Anayi says he would welcome Super Rugby ‘rejects’ the Bulls, Lions, Sharks and Stormers into an expanded edition.

“The tournament works well but could be even better if we added some South African teams,” he said, referring to a competition that also includes Irish, Italian, Scottish and Welsh teams.

But there may be no room for the two current South African Pro14 participants, the Cheetahs and Kings, who have experienced very different fortunes.

While the Cheetahs have been competitive, the Kings won just four of 55 matches in three seasons with some of the losing margins embarrassing.

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Currie Cup

The domestic competition has survived constant format changes to remain the vital ‘nursery’ from which Springboks emerge.

First staged in 1892, it was the bedrock of South African rugby until the dawn of professionalism after the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

As Test and Super Rugby fixtures took up an increasing amount of the season, the Currie Cup often battled for calendar space.

But it survived and this year could feature the four Super Rugby sides plus the Cheetahs, Kings, Griquas and Pumas, if play is possible amid the coronavirus.

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya records highest number of deaths from Covid-19

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Kenya’s coronavirus cases rise to 13,771 after 418 more infections

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By NATION REPORTER

Kenya on Monday reported 418 more Covid-19 infections, raising the country’s tally to 13,771 since the virus was first confirmed on March 13.

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Health Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) Rashid Aman also reported four more deaths, raising the toll to 238. He rectified an earlier report about 19 deaths in a single day, which would have been the highest number ever recorded in Kenya.

The 418 new patients were found following the testing of 2,474 samples in the last 24 hours.

Four hundred and eight of them were Kenyans and 10 foreigners while male patients numbered 263 and female patients 155.

Dr Aman also announced that 494 patients had been discharged, raising the country’s total number of recoveries to 5,616.

Of the recovered patients, 465 were under home care and the rest in hospitals.

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