The late Franco Rosso was recognised as the pioneer of tourism in Kenya following his extensive chain of luxurious resorts along the Kenyan coast.
The billionaire originally from Italy, died aged 94 on Monday, March 27 in Lugano, Switzerland.
He came to East Africa in 1967 on a family trip alongside his wife and children before falling in love with Kenya and his journey in the tourism sector began.
Some of his renowned resorts include; the Coconut Beach resorts and the Diamonds Dream of Africa, unique beach destinations preferred by the wealthy.
Rosso opened his first hotel Tropical Village on Casuarina beach, followed by Diamonds Dream of Africa and the adjacent Coconut and Malindi beach hotel. He later opened the fourth property, Sandies Malindi Dream Garden in 2018.
In 2021 and 2022, the Diamond Dream of Africa was awarded the World Travel Awards in 2021 and 2022. It was also feted as Africa's Leading Beach Hotel in 2012.
The billionaire began as a travel agent after he was attracted to the warm weather on Kenyan beaches compared to the winter months in Europe.
Rosso is the founder of Planhotel Hospitality Group and Franco Rosso International, one of the leading tour operators in Italy.
In 2019, Rosso in conjunction with a consortium of investors from New York n the US, and South Africa sought to build a multi-billion skyscraper 'Palm Exotica' in Watamu Kilifi County.
The plans were however halted by the former Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala who claimed that the 61-storey building should be built in Nairobi or Mombasa, not Watamu.
Interestingly, the building was expected to be home to a 270-bed hotel, a shopping mall, and a nightclub. It was also further expected to have 180 serviced apartments, office suites, a conference center, and restaurants.
Palm Exotica was estimated to cost Ksh28 billion to become the tallest hotel in Africa. However, on several occasions, Rosso distanced himself from the construction of the ambitious plan.
The business mogul is survived by three children.
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