State intensifies tourism marketing

Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during the Chef's table luncheon at Hilton hotel which was hosted at the Hilton's Kitchen. [Wilberforce Okwiri, Standard]

The government has renewed efforts to market itself to local travel industry players.

This as recent data shows the country’s tourist arrivals grew by 37 per cent in 2018 to cross the two million mark for the first time. There were 2,025,206 visitors in 2018 compared to 1,474,671 the previous year.

Research by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) also shows that the sector’s earnings grew by 31.2 per cent from Sh157 billion in 2018 from Sh119 billion in 2017.

In addition, domestic tourists increased by nine per cent to 3.9 million bed-nights in 2018 from 3.6 million in 2017. 

Speaking during the inaugural Magical Kenya Signature Experiences (MKSE) award ceremony on Friday, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala urged tourism providers to model their offerings to suit today’s unique travellers’ expectations.

He said trends have caused international and local travellers to seek out destinations that not only deliver unique and authentic experiences, but also those that tap into their passion points.

“It will ensure that the industry continues to be competitive and innovative in the products and services offered to clients. Kenya can only be competitive internationally if the service offering is exceptional to the traveller,” said Mr Balala.

The event saw 15 local players awarded after meeting the criteria of innovation, creativity and authentic offering.

KTB Chief Executive Betty Radier said the MKSE programme was initiated to ensure that tourism gems were identified so that they are evaluated, showcased and acknowledged for the role they play in promoting Kenya to the world.

“This journey was started in 2016 and the purpose was to look at what we have as an industry, looking at what we can do as a marketing body together with our partners to begin to identify gems within our destination,” she said.

Among the signature experiences awarded included the “Big Cat Safari" and “Finch Hattons Luxury" offered by Gamewatchers Safaris and Finch Hattons tented camp respectively.