Kenya’s new tourist board chairman is keen to meet partners from around the world to discuss initiatives in the country’s fight back against dwindling tourism numbers.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) chairman Jimi Kariuki says WTM London is crucial to getting the message across that the country is back in business. In the peak season on 2011, Kenya attracted 1.78m visitors, but this figure dropped to 1.18m last year.
In March, Kenya President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Mr Kariuki, who is marketing and sales director at Sarova Hotels, as chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) for three-year term. Mr Kariuki says Kenya’s tourism sector has the potential to attract at least five million visitors annually. He said his first assignment at the board is to spearhead the recovery of tourism through campaigns intended to help the government achieve the 2016 target of 1.6 million international tourist arrivals. “We have categorised our source markets to make it easier for our marketing team to link up with partners so that we can attract large numbers of tourists to the country this year,” he said. WTM London visitors to the Kenya stand can find out about promotional campaigns aimed at their particular market.
The government has recently launched incentives including visa fee waivers for under 16s, reduction of entry park fees, incentives for charters and the scrapping of a 16% per VAT on tourism services – a move that is expected to bring down safari costs.
KTB is doing joint marketing with Kenya Airways to attract travellers from other African countries to come to the country for holidays, as well as promoting the country in emerging markets in Eastern Europe, specifically Poland and the Czech Republic.
KTB is expected to partner up with TUI Poland in marketing the country in Poland this month to sustain charter flights from Warsaw to Mombasa.
The industry is expected to perform better than in 2015 bolstered by a rise in international tourist bookings from overseas markets.
Currently, lodges and tented camps in the Maasai Mara National Reserve are enjoying roaring business in the wake of the wildebeest migration spectacle. And at the Coast, hotel bookings have improved following the resumption of charter flights from Europe to Mombasa.