Obama effect to benefit tourism

November 12, 2008

, LONDON, November 12 – The Ministry of Tourism is predicting a 10 to 15 percent increase in the number of American tourists to Kenya as a result of Barack Obama’s victory in the US presidential elections.
The win is also expected to influence Europe and in particular the United Kingdom as visitors seek to discover Mr Obama’s heritage, according to Tourism Minister Najib Balala.

“We are now contemplating opening the ‘Obama Route’ that will start from Nairobi through the Great Rift Valley and Lake Victoria, leading to Kogelo village thus giving clients the chance to visit Obama’s father’s birthplace,” the Minister said.

He was speaking during meetings with 15 members of the Association of British Tour Operators at the ongoing World Travel Market in London.

Among the tour operators was Somak Holidays whose Managing Director Nick Hughes said consumer confidence in Kenya was increasing.

“My company has introduced five tours celebrating the US President–elect’s heritage. More related enquiries are increasingly being received by tour operators,” Mr Hughes said.

Copies of Barack Obama’s best selling book “Dreams from my father “ which extensively covers his first visit to Kenya including his tour to the Maasai Mara, Coast and the Western region, were handed out as gifts to selected guests and media at the event.

Minister Balala observed that though the global financial crisis was slowing down tourism revival since the country is a long haul destination, the future was positive not only because of the ‘Obama effect’ but due to the strong marketing strategy in place.

Balala revealed that in Europe, the country was working with leading tour operators in a consumer marketing campaign that involves the media, outdoor and internet advertising, direct mail to targeted markets among others.

Meanwhile, Kenya was awarded the Best Stand Award for having the most effective stand and personnel at the ongoing World Travel Market (WTM) in London. The award was in recognition of their professionalism in handling clients visiting the Kenya stand, their efficiency in customer service and their dress code among others.

The award was received by the Chairman of the Kenya Tourism Board Jake Grieves Cook in a short ceremony held at the Stand.

The Kenya stand has 46 exhibitors drawn from hotels, resorts and lodges, airlines, tour operators and government agencies who are all handling clients’ enquiries.

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