24 July 2014

Kenya: Four Percent Drop in Tourist Arrivals From January-May

Nairobi — The tourism sector has recorded a four percent decline in international arrivals between January and May to 381,000 arrivals compared to 398, 000 posted over the same period last year.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa says this is due to travel advisories issued in key markets that saw a big decline in arrivals especially to Mombasa.

"In Mombasa, occupancies are down owing to the insecurity. We also have an existing travel advisory against the Coast as a destination running from Mtwapa all the way down to Tiwi. Charters that used to travel to Mombasa have ceased from going there; this has seen a decline in numbers going to the Coast," he regretted.

Ndegwa said however they had witnessed quick wins from the recent interventions by President Uhuru Kenyatta pointing out that they will boost tourism numbers.

Among the interventions include reduction of park fees, air-ticketing services that have been exempted from VAT and lifting of the ban on the public service holding seminars in private hotels.

KTB has also launched a number of strategies aimed at giving positive image of the destination as a result of insecurity that has led to drop in tourist arrivals with the coastal region bearing the brunt.

"We have recently launched online campaign #whyilovekenya to reassure the markets and tourists that Kenya remains safe for their visitation."

"Let me report that the campaign has attracted thousands of positive conversations locally and internationally with positive endorsements from global brand personalities such as Sir Richard Branson," he said.

The board also rolled out an online reputation management programme to raise the profile of the destination in key markets, with seven blogs that post positive stories about Kenya in the UK, US, Germany and Italy.

"We have also engaged in reassurance missions in key source markets. Recently we undertook a mission to the United States and United Kingdom together with the Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie. The mission met tour operators and travel agents selling Kenya and assured them of the government's commitment to the safety of tourists and citizens alike," he said.

He says KTB will be holding the 4th edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo from October 8-10 that is expected to attract over 100 local exhibitors.

The exhibitors will include tour operators, travel agencies, hotels, resorts and lodges, airlines, car-hire companies, conferencing venues, government agencies and other stakeholders in the travel industry including regional tourism boards.

"The exhibition is aimed at showcasing Kenya as a world class tourism destination to top notch international trade thus one of our marketing strategies of increasing the tourist arrivals and tourism revenue in line with Vision 2030," he said.

Approximately 150 hosted buyers from over 30 countries representing Kenya's key source markets in Europe, Asia, Americas, Africa and the Middle East will be invited to participate at the expo.

The hosted buyers will be pre-qualified decision-makers and influencers from the travel trade in these markets.

British billionaire Richard Branson has criticised foreign governments especially from developing countries for being quick to issue travel advisories over terrorism threats.

In may the tourism sector lost Sh5 billion following cancellations that had been made between May and October 2014 owing to the travel advisory issued by four western nations.

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