Kenya’s presence at ITB Asia shows the country’s strong commitment towards the Asian market, says Jimi Kariuki, Chairman of Kenya Tourism Board, who predicts further growth in regional arrivals.
Asian travellers to Kenya currently represent 13% of all our arrivals, equivalent to 270,000 travellers. India is our largest Asian market followed by China and Japan. Asia will continue to grow over the years to come as flight connections with Asia are improving.
Kenya Airways already serves Bangkok, Mumbai and Guangzhou out of Nairobi while Air India will soon fly to Nairobi with a Boeing 787. We do hope to see more connections to large cities in China such as Beijing or Shanghai. Flight connectivity is essential to boosting arrivals from Asia.
How is tourism supported by the government?
Our government sees tourism as a priority as it has a very positive impact on our economy. Tourism is the second largest source of foreign revenues and represents 10% of our GDP. It is also a very positive element in terms of our international brand image.
How do you position Kenya on the Asian continent?
We remain a country well known for its wildlife and for its beaches. But we now look to promote what we call “top signature” products. These include adventure, culture and history – espacially in Nairobi and Mombasa – cuisine, local community experience as well as sports such as golfing. We also introduced new activities such as climbing or agrotourism, and we are promoting visits to coffee and tea farms.
Are there new destinations that you would like to promote?
We are considering promoting three destinations beside more traditional circuits such as Lake Nakuru and its colonies of pink flamingos or the Maasai Mara National Reserve, an area of preserved savannah wilderness. We want to attract the younger generations to discover the fabulous beaches of Diani in the south, Laikipia national forest in the North or Tsavo National Parks near Mombasa.
Photo: Jimi Kariuki, Chairman, Kenya Tourism Board