EAC visitors spun Kenya holidays

Tourism minister Najib Balala. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • The Kenya Tourism Board, the marketing agency, plans to spend Sh1.6 billion in the coming fiscal year to add shine to the country’s profile and attract visitors globally.
  • Official data shows that tourism earned the country Sh84.6 billion last year, down from Sh87.1 billion in 2014 and Sh97.9 billion in 2011.

Kenya is racing to reverse a drop in visitor arrivals from Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda with a Sh150 million marketing campaign following last year’s success with travellers from Nigeria and South Africa.

Tourism data shows that visitors from Tanzania dropped 17.3 per cent to 17,752 last year, Ugandan travellers to Kenya reduced 8 per cent to 29,038 while those from Rwanda narrowed 1.3 per cent to 11,242.

This has jolted the Ministry of Tourism to conduct consumer research in the three countries which are among top five tourist source markets for Kenya in order to align their preferences with local attractions.

“In terms of investment, we have taken Tanzania and Uganda for granted. But this is going to change,” Tourism secretary Najib Balala said at a press briefing in Nairobi but cautioned against the rising political heat.

Kenya is renowned for its warm weather in the palm-fringed sandy beaches, resorts and game park rides. Officials look to market Nairobi as a regional hub for shopping and hospitality as they eye neighbouring travellers.

Tourist arrivals from South Africa, which is Kenya’s largest source market, jumped 17.6 per cent last year to 30,476 while Nigerian visitors increased six per cent to 14,065.

The growth was attributed to increased promo in Nigeria and South Africa – the largest and second largest economies in Africa respectively.
The government seeks to replicate similar success in East Africa with a Sh150 million promo, which takes up 60 per cent of the Sh250 million budgeted to market Kenya to Africa for the fiscal year starting July.

Africa contributed to 26 per cent of total visitor arrivals of 1.1 million last year.
The Kenya Tourism Board, the marketing agency, plans to spend Sh1.6 billion in the coming fiscal year to add shine to the country’s profile and attract visitors globally.

Tourism is a key forex earner for Kenya but a spate of past terrorism attacks has caused a big drop in foreign visitor arrivals after Western nations issued travel advisories, denying the economy hard currency inflows. This partly saw the weakening of the shilling to the US dollar last year.

Travel advisories

Official data shows that tourism earned the country Sh84.6 billion last year, down from Sh87.1 billion in 2014 and Sh97.9 billion in 2011.
The US, Britain, Germany and Australia have since lifted their travel advisories on several holiday-making towns following improved security, raising hopes of sector revival.

The UK remains the largest tourist source market for Kenya with 98,523 arrivals after a 15.9 per cent drop last year, followed by the US at 84,759 and India at 49,756.

Besides hotels, tourism supports sectors like handicraft makers, taxi business, fishermen and farmers.
Visitor arrivals by air and sea grew 14 per cent in the first four months of the year to 263,284.

The growth is welcome news to hoteliers who have been forced to cut jobs, slash pay and close shop following the crippling effects of past bomb and guns attacks that spooked holidaymakers.

The country has also intensified campaigns for conference tourism and to attract more charter flights, including offering landing fees subsidies and reduction of game park entry fees.

Tourism ministry has set a target of attracting three million international visitors annually, compared to 1.1 million last year, 1.3 million in 2014, and 1.8 million in 2011.

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