Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala has challenged stakeholders in the tourism sector to identify and promote a Kenyan brand that would help sustain Kenya on the world map.
Balala said that it was not just enough to market Kenya as a tourist destination amid stiff completion from other similar tourist destinations.
Speaking in Nakuru during a stakeholders’ forum to discuss Kenya’s safari tourism Friday, the CS challenged stakeholders to go an extra mile and find out what makes Kenya tick.
He noted that although Kenya has long prided itself as a leading bush safaris destination, it was facing stiff competition from new emerging destinations, thus the need to review the Safari product and make it more competitive.
Balala challenged stakeholders in the industry to come up with a tourism DNA that is unique to Kenya and capitalise on it in order to increase its tourist numbers.
The CS stressed the need to equip service providers such as taxi operators, hotel staff and even communities with basic marketing skills, given that they interact with visitors quite regularly.
He said it was regrettable that most of the service providers created a negative impression to visitors instead of focusing on the positive aspects.
The CS said that although tourist numbers had exceeded the 2 million mark, there was still much that could be done to beef up the numbers by establishing a trade mark that Kenya could be identified with on the global tourism market.
He added that the national government was committed to ensuring a good working relationship with county governments who were a critical player in the sector.
He urged governors to identify landmarks in their regions and build a brand that would sell the counties as leading tourism destinations.
The CS welcomed the nomination of the outgoing Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinett as a Chief Administrative Secretary in the ministry saying that his wealth of experience in security matters would come in handy at the docket.
Balala said that security still remained a major challenge globally and a lot remained to be done to improve it.
He urged the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to organise customer care trainings for taxi operators to enable them become ambassadors at the point of contact.
He said that many stakeholders in the tourism sector needed to be trained on basic marketing skills that would assist them in marketing Kenya as a great tourist destination.
These stakeholders, he noted, could help tourists identify other destinations of interest and therefore create in them a desire to make a return visit.
Balala called on the Safari Summit to come up with recommendations on improving the tourism sector and boosting the numbers by identifying ways of capturing the desires of tourists.
He said that there was need to move away from previous perspectives that tourists were spendthrifts, adding that tourists want value for their money.
By Jane Ngugi/Rasto