Kenya tourist board changes tact on attracting tourists
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has changed its marketing strategy to increase Kenya’s chances of attracting more tourists.
Dr Betty Radier, the Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer said the conventional marketing approach that focused on selling Kenya as the ideal tourist destination because of its beaches and safari experience is no longer a feasible way of increasing revenue from the tourism sector that earned the country Sh99.7 billion in 2016.
Radier said the board is not going to engage in global media campaigns to sell Kenya as a tourist destination, but will focus on more product diversification and selling signature experiences to global visitors.
“Travellers are looking for an authentic experience that is not stage-managed. Chaperoning guests from the airport to the hotel and following them around until the day they leave is not tenable. Visitors want to experience the culture and live the experience,” she said during policy breakfast for business journalists in Nairobi supported by the Business Advocacy Fund (BAF).
Tourism is one of Kenya’s biggest revenue earners, contributing a 10th of Kenya’s Gross Domestic Product. It has created more than 250,000 direct jobs and is the third highest foreign currency earners for the country. Kenya has, not fully exploited the industry that raked in USD2.6 trillion globally in 2016.
The board’s marketing strategy is now leaning towards offering visitors a real -time experience of Kenya’s diverse tourist products through the social media.
One of the ways they are doing this is encouraging visitors to post photos and videos of the places they are visiting so that the board can share them on online platforms.
“We want to ensure that we have an adaptive strategy and policy that reacts to changes in technology and markets while keeping the authentic experience at the forefront of our content,” she said.
The board is working with county governments and small and medium size tourism firms to sell some of the little-known tourist sites that have the potential of attracting more visitors to Kenya.
The other product the board is exploring is Kenya’s business and conferencing facilities.
“Kenya as a destination is the most competitive, but lack of infrastructure is making it difficult to develop our tourism sector,” Radier said.
The board is exploring the use of data analytics in partnership with Google and digital marketing to shore up tourist numbers. The board is going through analytics trainings on how to use street view, a technology featured in Google Maps and Google Earth that provide panoramic views from positions along many streets in the world, to display the array of sites in Kenya.
Despite the challenges facing the tourism sector in Kenya it has experienced growth. Last year it grew by 20 per cent despite the long electioneering period.
High-end tourists from United States and Britain increased by 17 percent and 11.1 per cent respectively last year.
Domestic tourism grew by 15. 9 per cent and visitors from Uganda, the top tourists source market for Kenya in Africa increased by 20.6 percent.
There was a 2.7 percent drop in visitors from India, the fourth source of tourists for Kenya because of fiscal and monetary changes in their country that affected spending and jitters over the General Election in Kenya.
Even though tourism was not listed in President Uhuru Kenyatta’s big-four agenda, industry players are keen to exploit its potential of becoming a top revenue earner. Last week there ministry of tourism held a two-day national stakeholders forum that focused on the new opportunities that have opened up after devolution and how county governments can be part of the strategy to market the different tourist attractions in their regions.