Nairobi — The launch of Google Street View for Kenya's 21 national parks and one conservancy today is expected to boost Kenya's tourism sector by encouraging visitor numbers to the parks.
Capturing Street View imagery of these national parks and one conservancy was done through a collaboration between Google, the Ministry of Tourism, Kenya Wildlife Services, the County Governments of Narok and Samburu and the management of Ol Pejeta Conservancy.
Street View is a 360-degree ground-level imagery layer found on Google Maps. Users are able to remotely explore landmarks, navigate a trip, explore the streets of cities and towns, and visit other places of interest from around the world. In Kenya, imagery has already been published for major cities, towns, roads and other places of interest. Capturing of the national parks imagery was the second phase.
Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife spoke at the launch: "Google Street View will bring Kenya to the world, by providing a global audience with tools to virtually explore Kenya's cities, other urban centres, attractions and places of interest; and also bring the world to Kenya, by growing a user's interest to physically visit a place of interest that they have experienced virtually."
Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) is currently positioning its National Parks and Reserves on the global map as ideal destinations for adventure, wildlife safaris, sight-seeing, marine experiences and the rich cultural experiences.
Street View is expected to improve KWS's brand identity, develop a ready and accessible information hub for customers, better target audience reach, and build a virtual shop for KWS products.
Charles Murito, Google Kenya Country Director said that this launch places emphasis on the impact that Google products and platforms have in helping Kenyans and empowering them to build & grow their businesses in order to create economic growth. "Tourism is a vital contributor to our GDP and I believe that we at Google can play an active part to help grow this sector through our products. This can be in the form of showcasing the sites that Kenya has to offer, to providing targeted advertising in order to reach interested travellers," he stressed.
"With 82% of travellers undecided on a destination and 74% of them starting their research or inspiration online, it's critical that we have Kenya online. Millward Brown study found that with exposure to a video tourism ad, travellers are 6 times more likely to book," Murito added.
The parks whose imagery have been published are the Maasai Mara; Amboseli; Nairobi National Park; Mount Kenya; Hell's Gate; Samburu National Reserve and Ol Pejeta Conservancy.