Kenya Makes U-turn in Western Tourists Search

Kenya has made a U-turn on its campaign to look for new source markets for tourists in yet another signal of thawing relations with the West.

Tourists sunbathe at the Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa in the past. KTB and the ministry have launched a new drive to woo Western visitors. FILE

Tourists sunbathe at the Travellers Beach Hotel in Mombasa in the past. KTB and the ministry have launched a new drive to woo Western visitors. FILE

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) says its Sh200 million promotion would cover both traditional and emerging source markets in bid to revive the ailing tourism sector.

The fresh campaigns being conducted in partnership with tourism ministry target North America and a number of European states with which Kenya has locked horns in past weeks over crippling travel advisories.

“We have already brought in media personalities from the US, UK, Canada and Russia to familiarise with the Kenyan tourism products up to July 4,” said Mr Ndegwa.

“We also intend to bring in media teams from Germany, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, India and Australian on a similar familiarisation tour of the country.”

The government had previously indicated it would drop its traditional markets in favour of domestic tourism and new source markets in Africa, East Europe and Asia.

Mr Ndegwa spoke in Mombasa on Thursday just as a marketing team led by tourism Cabinet secretary Phyllis Kandie left for the UK to woo back holidaymakers.

The minister’s team is scheduled to hold talks with leading tour operators and travel agents before heading to the US on a similar mission.

About 900 tourists are said to have cut short their holidays after Britain issued its warning on Mombasa on May 14, dealing a heavy blow on the tourism industry which employs about 500,000 people directly.

The industry was already smarting from low numbers, having received only 1.5 million visitors last year compared to a peak of 1.8 million in 2011 when the industry netted foreign exchange worth Sh97.9 billion.

Travel advisories

The new promotion drive stands in sharp contrast to the hard stance that top government officials have previously maintained in the aftermath of the crippling travel advisories linked to terrorist attacks in Nairobi, the Coast and parts of the North, leaving scores of people killed.

President Kenyatta has previously advocated for increased domestic travel and establishment of new source markets in Asia and Africa to revive the ailing tourism industry.

“Kenya is our country and we will develop it. Even if they take their tourists, we will look for others. We will fight terrorists and we will not be cowed,” President Kenyatta said in a May reaction to travel advisories and recent evacuation of the British tourists.

In the 2014/15 budget, the Treasury gave a thumbs-up to domestic tourism when it allowed deduction of expenditure paid by employers for vacation trips with Kenya for a period of 12 months.

So far, Kenya has mounted promotions in Nigeria and was scheduled to visit South Africa, Russia and China, seen as emerging markets. The State now says domestic tourism and emerging markets would be pursued in addition to the traditional source markets.

“Let me be clear that by diversifying our marketing campaigns in China and Russia does not mean that we are abandoning our traditional source markets,”

Mrs Kandie said in a speech read at the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) symposium in Mombasa. At the symposium, KAHC national chairman Jaideep Vohra proposed that each hotel would contribute Sh221 per guest to finance marketing abroad.

– Business Daily