Kenya tourism seeks Chinese boost

May 17, 2009

, Nairobi, Kenya, May 17 – A tourism industry player has said that China could become Kenya\’s main tourism source market in the next one year.

Sarova Lion Hill Game Lodge Manager Ken Korir said that players in the tourism industry should place more emphasis on understanding the Far East countries and tap into these emerging markets.

Speaking to Capital Business, Korir noted the need to include Chinese cuisine and culture in Kenyan hotel offerings.

“Look at things like their food, who can really claim to fully understand Chinese food in this country?” Mr Korir asked.

He noted that a few years ago, Indians and more so Kenyan Indians had to travel with their own food because they could rarely find their cuisine in the various local hotels they visited.

“This has now changed with a hotel chain like ours having put more focus on the Indian market and I guess we want do the same for the Chinese market,” the Lodge Manager said.
On the other hand Mr Korir wants the national tourism marketing body, namely Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), to put more focus on marketing tourism locally and regionally.

He observed that such a move would ensure more sustainability of tourism trade in the country.
“KTB has always focused on the traditional markets Europe, America and the Far East but they seem to have forgotten the local market; Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, the Great Lakes and Africa in general,” Mr Korir pointed out.

He noted the need to put extra focus within the immediate market.

“That’s a market that will be sustainable irregardless, because the region will understand the region,” the Lodge Manager explained.
Mr Korir added that the sustainability of a country’s tourism product is hugely dependant on a strong local and regional base.

At the same time, he observed that despite the ongoing global economic downturn the industry is fairing well, with the domestic market providing a major boost to the hotel industry.

He said that the recent completion of the upgrading of the Nairobi-Nakuru highway has also had a positive impact on the tourism business in the region.

“Up to last year it used to take about 4 hours to drive from Nairobi to Nakuru. It is now 2 hours only, so people are able to drive even late afternoon, which has led to a nearly 20 percent upsurge in our business,” Mr Korir said.

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