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Kenya urged to market tourism online

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 10 – Tourism stakeholders are coming under pressure to diversify their marketing strategies as source markets demand more information and accessibility from travel destinations.

Calls are now streaming in for the industry to capitalise on the online platform in an effort of drawing more tourists to the country.

E-Tourism Frontiers Chief Executive Officer Damian Cook says the lack of presence on online platforms is hurting the country’s chances of marketing itself as an ideal travel destination with the emergence of a new breed of travelers.

“We are now selling to a very different demographic that is very active on the Internet and rely on it to make their decisions,” Mr Cook said.

The country’s tourism marketing efforts have been heavily reliant on both print and broadcast media, a point Mr Cook said needed to change if it is to attract and maintain a steady stream of tourists.

The country’s traditional markets include the United Kingdom, America, Germany, Italy and France, which account for 50 percent of the international arrivals.

Mr Cook highlighted that all these markets had high Internet usage, which tourism stakeholders need to capitalise on.

He said travel had become one of the fastest selling commodities online adding it would be critical for industry stakeholders to embrace technology to create a global presence with potential tourists.

“Something is wrong if we have 48 percent of tourism being sold online globally and we are selling only two percent. There is no way we can sustain our tourism industry if we are completely absent in the predominant market place for sale,” he said.

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The tourism industry is the country’s third largest foreign exchange earner but has been dealt serious blows following combined effects of the post election violence and world economic crisis.

This has seen the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) intensify its marketing efforts with renewed emphasis on emerging markets to win over tourists. This has seen KTB slowly embrace online marketing, posting videos on You Tube as well social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The 2010 first quarter results released in May showed the sector had recorded a 16 percent rise in international arrivals.

Statistics from KTB show arrivals in the first six months grew 20.5 percent to 403,996, compared to 400,362 arrivals witnessed in 2007, Kenya’s best performing year.

KTB Managing Director Mureithi Ndegwa has expressed optimism of surpassing the one million-tourist arrival mark this year.

Mr Cook said together with creating an online presence, players would also have to adopt online payment systems to facilitate transactions on a real time basis.

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