NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 30 – A Kenyan website highlighting the country’s tourist attractions in Spanish is due to be launched soon.
This follows the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between both countries to cooperate in tourism promotion, information sharing and technical assistance on training, which also includes conducting an e-learning programme for Spanish Tour Operators, and cross-marketing of tourism with other Kenyan products such as tea and coffee.
The plans were concretised by Tourism Minister Najib Balala and his Spanish counterpart Juan Mesquida in Madrid, where a Kenyan tourism promotion team is attending the largest Spanish tourism trade fair; the Fitur.
Kenya is taking part in the Fitur for the first time in line with the undertakings of the MoU, which was signed in Nairobi in late November 2008, when the Spanish Minister visited Kenya.
This year, the Fitur has attracted more than 13,000 exhibiting companies from 170 countries and regions, thus allowing the participating teams to establish the biggest and most useful network of business and institutional contacts
Mr Mesquida has also pledged his government’s support in the development of an effective e-tourism platform with similar features to that of his ministry, which would enable even the small operators to benefit.
“The Spanish Tourism Ministry has a team of 40 technical experts to develop and manage its portal, which has interactive features and facilities that enable on-line booking and e-transactions,” said Mr Mesquida.
In order to promote the e-learning programme, the Spanish Minister said he would initiate action to establish the Spanish International School in Kenya. This will help to break the language barrier, which is a contributory factor to the low number of tourists visiting Kenya from Spain. In 2007, fifteen thousands Spanish tourists visited Kenya, but this number went down to about 6,000 according to the 2008 estimates.
Mr Balala also held discussions with Q Lineas Aereas airline, which has expressed interest in introducing direct flights to Kenya after assessing the viability of the venture. “Our Government will support the introduction of direct flights to Kenya from Spain,” assured the Minister saying that Kenya’s participation in the Fitur was the beginning of a mutually beneficial relationship.
While in Spain, Mr Balala was one of the panellists in the United Nations World Tourism Organisation’s Technical Meeting on Tourism Policy and Governance in The Age of Uncertainty. The meeting discussed the effect of the current global economic crisis on tourism demand. He also held consultative meetings with Spanish media and tour operators, where he assured that Kenya was a safe destination.
Meanwhile, thanks to the UK post office, travellers wishing to visit Kenya from the UK are learning how to keep their holidays exotic and cheap during this year\’s incumbent recession.
After years of being one of Kenya\’s largest tourist markets, during 2008, British travellers started to waver their interest in the East African nation.
This year, however, they are being encouraged to pick up their act again and take advantage of the strong Pound (against the Kenyan shilling), discounted hotels and flights, and low tourist costs in Kenya before they miss the boat.
Kenya has made it into this year\’s top ten cheapest destinations to travel, according to calculations from First Rate Exchange Services (First Rate), the money exchange provider for the Post Office.
Kenya is also bouncing back from a struggling year for tourism in 2008; after a small and immediately contained period of unrest in a pocket of the country.
Despite 2008\’s lag, tourism operators have high-hopes that 2009 will see a return of Kenya\’s usual tourism buzz, with warm smiles, unmatched hospitality, unique cultural experiences and the Big Five waiting to give travellers something to write home about.
Nationals from the USA and the European Union need to apply for a 90-day temporary Kenyan visa to visit the country. Although visitors from these countries can buy temporary visas at the port of entry to Kenya, applying before travelling to the country is recommended to avoid the risk of being denied a visa, as some applications can be rejected at customs.