Tourism Agency Hires UK Firm in Drive to Rebuild Kenya’s Image

Tourism agency has hired an online reputation management firm at a cost of Sh10 million to help Kenya rebuild its international image online and provide factual information about the country.

KTB managing director Muriithi Ndegwa. Photo/Salaton Njau

KTB managing director Muriithi Ndegwa speaks during a media briefing on Thursday. Photo/Salaton Njau

The Online Reputation Management campaign is part of the strategies Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) unveiled Thursday in a bid to help the tourism sector recover from the recent travel advisories by the UK, US and Australia that are key source markets.

The UK-based company, National Reviews, will be charged with monitoring social media and pushing negative press past the second page in search engines and create new Internet content to help rebuild the country’s reputation.

“Our brand equity is at stake with some tour companies stopping to sell the county. We are telling people Kenya is ready and open for business,” said KTB managing director Muriithi Ndegwa at a press conference in Nairobi on Thursday.

He added that the agency had previously worked with the firm following kidnappings in Lamu two years ago.

KTB will spend the Sh200 million it had been allocated earlier in the year on the tourism recovery programme.

The money is yet to be released by the Treasury but Mr Ndegwa said the board would use internal resources in the short term as it waits for the funding. The initiative is part of a quickly laid out recovery strategy following travel advisories issued last week.

However, the UK High Commissioner to Kenya Christian Turner has moved to clarify its travel advisory stating it did not order the evacuation of its citizens from the country.

He said the UK did not issue a travel advisory against Kenya, but only advised its citizens about the terrorism threats facing Kenya, following recent incidents in Nairobi and Mombasa.

He added that Britain only issued a change of travel advisory targeting Mombasa. However, following the advisory major British tour companies evacuated their customers and stated they would not sell Kenya until October 31.

Thompson, one of the large tour companies, said it was evacuating its customers following the travel advisory issued by the British Government.

The travel advisories came at a time the sector was already hard hit by the continuous terrorist attacks, and the introduction of value added tax, leading to a slump.

Last year, the sector recorded a 15.8 per cent decline in arrivals which stood at 1.5 million compared to 1.8 million the previous year.

Earnings dropped by 2.13 per cent to Sh93.97 billion compared to Sh96.02 billion the previous year.

KTB is looking at an extensive marketing strategy to help build confidence in the market, attract new tourists and reassure markets. The board will target domestic tourism, regional markets, Africa and other new tourist sources, including China.

– Business Daily