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Kenya taps emerging tour markets

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 11- Kenya is poised to tap into the huge potential that emerging tourism markets portend, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa has said.

Mr Ndegwa told Capital Business that they have stepped up the marketing of Kenya’s tourism products to countries that are not considered key source markets as one way of growing the tourism sector.

“This (emerging markets) is really a high growth area: it is projected that by 2020 the global tourism will have reached a figure of 1.6 billion (tourist arrivals) and out of this the major growth will come from the emerging markets,” explained the MD in reference to destinations that include India, Russia, gulf countries, Eastern Europe, South America and Africa.

The country’s traditional markets include United Kingdom, America, Germany, Italy and France which account for 50 percent of the international arrivals.Coupled with this strategy is the promotion of other tourism circuits such as the Western and Northern Kenya areas that are meant to open up the country to more visitors.

Mr Ndegwa said the Board had put in place a comprehensive strategy that would see them target more domestic visitors which would go a long way in assisting the sector reduce its dependence on foreign tourism. Although he declined to disclose further details saying they were being out worked before the launch, the MD said plans would unveiled soon.

“Without pre-empting the strategy going forward, let me say that we will be launching some activities specifically for the domestic market and I will say just watch the space,” he said.

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Domestic tourism, which Mr Ndegwa explained constitute both local and regional visitors, has over the years contributed about 30 percent of the total tourist numbers.

“We need to grow the domestic numbers without obviously compromising the international marketing,” he emphasised.

The sector which is benchmarked on the 2007 performance when it recorded nearly two million visitors and Sh65.4 billion in foreign exchange earnings saw many visitors stay away from the country in 2008 following the effects of the post election crisis causing the figures to plummet by nearly 35 percent.

The official was however optimistic that the industry has fully recovered with the revival activities aligned towards the goals of Vision 2030. According to the development blueprint, Kenya targets to have nearly three million arrivals by 2012 with the revenue per visitor pegged at Sh70, 000 from the current Sh40, 000.

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In October last year, KTB said the sector market had picked up recording a revival rate estimated at 87.9 percent. The December 2009 figures which should help sum up last year’s statistics and which Mr Ndegwa said are ‘looking good’ are being collated and should be out by early February.

“From the onset, the figures don’t look bad and I think there’s been quite a bit of effort in terms of getting the numbers to a recovery level,” he said.

The efforts have seen Kenya bag several awards in different categories such as eco-tourism.

In December 2009, Kenya was voted the \’Best Destination\’ for Eco-tourism in the world and the third best \’Overseas Destination\’ by both the public and travel trade in China.

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Kenya clinched these awards after a rigorous judgement by a panel of 250 decision makers in hotels, travel agents, tour operators, airliners, tourism boards and the media.

The two recognitions, Mr Ndegwa said were a positive development for Kenya in terms of increasing positive awareness of the country as a tourist destination in China.

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