The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has scaled up its campaign to market non-wildlife tourism products to boost the sector’s earnings following the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on the industry.
KTB Managing Director Dr Betty Raddier said despite the attractiveness of coastal beach holidays and wildlife safaris, the board was now aggressively marketing alternative core tourism products that the country could offer from its diverse niches, including culture, cuisine, entertainment, sports, nature, Exhibitions, and Conferences tourism to increase revenue generation.
Raddier observed that most local and foreign tourists only knew of the generic attractions like the Maasai Mara and Mombasa beaches, which she said had not only put a strain on the facilities and capacity but had also left the tourism industry largely dependent on a few attractions.
The board, she stated was looking to grow domestic tourism using the “You deserve a holiday” campaign to get the locals excited about the various destinations that the country offers adding that there were many Kenyans who are interested in travel but had no sufficient information.
The KTB boss said the management was keen to drive and support effective marketing of Kenya’s tourism products in addition to running the Magical Kenya website where in addition to showcasing Kenyan tourist destinations, it was also listing discounted packages for local residents.
Speaking after a golf tournament sponsored by Magical Kenya at the Nakuru Golf Club, the MD indicated that “You deserve a holiday” campaign would also cover all destinations in Kenya that offered rock climbing, bird watching, golf tourism, adventure sports, leisure tourism and wildlife tourism.
The board, she said was working with other players such as hoteliers, tour companies and guides in drawing attraction to the hidden gems that Kenya has in store citing bullfighting, Kakamega and Mt Elgon forests which she said were now becoming major tourist attractions in Western Kenya.
She also said Nyanza region was becoming rich in cultural and archaeological diversity where the famous Kit Mikaye (ancient rocks hipped on another) were becoming a major attraction.
Nyanza region is also home to legends Lwanda Magere, Okore Ogonda, and Gor Mahia, among others, famed for courage in protecting their communities against external aggressions.
“You deserve a holiday” initiative was also said to encourage the private sector and local communities to develop “out of park” tourism activities such as mountain biking, visits to cultural and spiritual sites, cultural performances and community walks.
Raddier challenged Kenyans to drop the notion that tourism is only a preserve for the wealthy or those with disposable income and also urged firms in the tourism sector to come up with reasonable packages affordable by most Kenyans.
“We have for a long time relied on foreigners to build our tourism, it is now our time as locals to spur the growth of our domestic tourism to the next level by playing a major part in that growth,” said Raddier.
Kenya Wildlife Service, Marketing and Business Development Manager Ms. Gladys Kosgey said the state agency was opening up adventure parks by refurbishing and upgrading the facilities to enhance the experience and urged domestic and international tourists to visit the parks.
She stated that KWS had agreed to collaborate with KTB in an effort to revive the tourism and hospitality sectors which are still struggling to recover from the adverse effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that domestic tourism in Kenya was a field that the industry players ought to tap into more to increase revenue as it holds huge potential and was crucial for economic development.
She indicated that it was important for tourism industry players including the government to unite and realize the potential of domestic tourism adding that as the industry grows, more local businesses would thrive and as a result more employment opportunities would be created.
“More campaigns should be conducted with a view of educating and familiarizing the locals on the available local destinations and the importance of tourism in a society,” Kosgey said.
Nakuru County Tourism Association Chairman Mr. David Mwangi said tourism and hospitality marketing agencies at both counties and national level have over the years focused more on wildlife and beach products, neglecting cultural attractions and conference facilities, which have traditionally relied on fragmented promotions by the proprietors.
The chairman observed that enhancing equal distribution of resources to all sectors and regions would open up more destinations that would inversely arouse interest among locals adding that industry players needed to tap into conference tourism, a relatively new concept in the industry, which revolves around service provision to business travelers attending seminars, workshops, conferences and conventions.
The tourism sector performance report 2021 indicated that the industry earnings increased to Sh146.51 billion last year up from Sh88.56 billion in the year 2020.
Tourist arrivals through airports and border points also increased by 53.3 percent to 870,465 from 567,848 over the same period where about 26.4 per cent visited for business meetings, conferences and exhibitions.
By Esther Mwangi and Charloth Chepkemoi