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MJ takes over at Kenya Tourist Board

NAIROBI, Kenya Jan 14 – Former Safaricom Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph’s three-year term as Chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board begun on Thursday, with a promise to transform Kenya’s tourism sector.

Credited with helping to build Safaricom into one of the most profitable and successful brands in East Africa, Mr Joseph said he plans to  transform KTB into an efficient marketing body that will help unlock the potential in the local tourism industry.

“My goal is to make Kenya an even more magical destination for the rest of the world to come and reach out to new source markets,” Mr Joseph said at his welcome cocktail.

Mr Joseph replaces long serving Chairman Jake Grieves-Cook whose six-year reign ended on November 30, 2010.

MJ, as he is commonly referred to, said he would draw on his managerial and marketing skills natured at Safaricom to the make tourism a key income earner for the country.

“I hope to spend to what I have learnt in being innovative and being somewhat of a dictator to make Kenya a destination of choice for everyone,” he said.

He challenged tourism stakeholders to diversify tourism activities arguing Kenya had more to offer the world than what was currently being offered.

“After all, this is your industry.  All we can do is market Kenya for you but we want to give them value for money. We want to do something new with them other than going to the coast or the Maasai Mara and market more of the beauty of Kenya,” he said.

In 2008, Kenya’s tourism industry took a heavy beating from the post-election violence following disputed presidential polls in late 2007 as well as the global financial meltdown.

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The sector has however been on the path to recovery, recording on average 17 percent monthly growth in tourism arrivals compared to 2007, by far Kenya’s best performing year.

The tourism sector is projecting a 20 percent increase in tourist arrivals in its 2010 results from 952,481 in 2009 to 1.2 million arrivals.

The sector projects Sh100 billion in earnings from the sector.

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