Kenya pushes for more tourists
By DAVID MUGONYI
Kenya is wooing more tourists during the low season as it tries to balance pressure on its top attractions.
Kenya Tourist Board chairman Jake Grieves-Cook said the country needed to tap more tourists during the low season so that facilities are not strained during peak seasons mainly from June to February.
He was addressing journalists during the World Travel Market exhibition in London today.
Mr Cook said: “We have come here to encourage visitors not to only come to Kenya during the peak season but also during the low season.”
“It is the strategy of KTB to encourage more visitors to come to Kenya between March and June to enjoy our products then,” he added.
Mr Cook also announced that the board was trying to market other sites like Meru National Park and Western Kenya among others so as not to overcrowd and destroy the ecosystem in popular areas like the Maasai Mara.
He said the growth of tourism in Kenya was outperforming the world which is at six per cent.
Kenya has four of the five key countries that contribute the largest number of visitors -United Kingdom, US, Germany and France. However, the country is on an aggressive campaign to also get tourists from Japan, which also contributes immensely to the number of visitors worldwide.
Mr Cook attributed the low number of tourists coming into Kenya from Japan to lack of a direct flight connecting Kenya and Japan.
He attributed the growth of the industry in Kenya to a good marketing campaign the country adopted in Europe and US. It involved advertising in newspapers, underground trains and getting foreign journalists to sample the products in Kenya and writing about them.
He said the strong performance of the shilling in the past two years was attributed to increasing tourists visiting the country and bringing in more dollars.
However, Mr Cook said Nairobi as a destination of conference tourism was facing international hotel problems.
Although KTB wanted to promote conference tourism with the refurbishment of the Kenya International Conference Centre, there was a shortage of quality hotels.
He said Nairobi needed about 10,000 more beds to tap into the new market.
Kenya, the KTB chairman said, should encourage foreign inward investment so that more hotels could be built.
Although the tourism industry was facing problems of inaccessible roads, Mr Cook said most of them were being rehabilitated while the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport was being upgraded to accommodate more visitors.
Kenya is among the 200 exhibitors in the travel market in London which started today.