The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya Is Not Ditching Western Markets - Ruto

KENYA is not pulling out of her traditional tourists markets by going East, Deputy President William Ruto has said. He said the country must diversify its source markets by looking for new markets to add up to the existing ones in the UK, the US, Germany and other European countries.

In a speech read by the Tourism PS Ibrahim Mohamed at Whitesands Hotel Mombasa on Thursday, the DP said the country is working to retaining the traditional markets.

"Let me be clear; this does not mean we are quitting our traditional markets. We are in tourism business. We are in the business of gaining markets and not losing them," Ruto said.

Ruto was expected to be the guest of honour during the Coast Tourism Conference organised by the Kenya Coast Tourists Association, formerly Mombasa and Coast Tourists Association. He said the country wants to add China, the Middle East and Africa to what they currently have.

"It's not raging but the fire has not gone out on tourism industry. We can and we will re-ignite the industry and it will drive growth and lift households out of poverty because this is a remarkable destination," he said.

KCTA chair Mohamed Hersi said politicians are misleading Kenyans by talking negatively about the Chinese market. He said in the recent past, more than 100 million Chinese have toured the world and Kenya need to capitalise on this.

Hersi said in 2004, the country obtained the 'Approved Destination Status' from the Chinese government which allows Kenya to be marketed as a tour destination in China.

He said Kenya became the 76th country to acquire that status and only 146 countries have qualified. More than 50 countries have applied, but they have not been approved. "Those talking ill about China are ignorant to the fact that everyone wants to get a share of the Chinese tourism market," he said.

Hersi said the California City of America makes more than Sh2 billion dollars from Chinese tourists. He said, "If America is one of the countries benefiting from Chinese tourist why should Kenya talk negative about them."

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