, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 -The first Korean tourist charter flight touched down in Nairobi on Sunday evening, as part of efforts by the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) and Ministry of Tourism to diversify into new markets.
KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa who was among those present to receive the tourists at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) said the charter was the culmination of an aggressive marketing campaign in Korea and other Asian countries.
“To get a direct flight from Korea is good news for us because our strategy has been to diversify our tourism markets, and bearing in mind that Korea is one of the fastest growing markets,” he said.
He added that promoting new source markets had boosted Kenya’s tourism base compensating for possible a slowdown in traditional source markets like Europe and the US with the global economic climate.
Since 2006, Kenya has received an average of 6,000 visitors from Korea annually, which Ndegwa says KTB and the Tourism Ministry is looking to double in the next two years.
Three charters from Europe have arrived in Nairobi in the last few months greatly ensuring that the country continues to grow its revenues from tourism.
The 120-passenger flight from Korea is the first of two tourist charters set for this month, with the other flight carrying 190 passengers expected in a week.
Kal Tour president Kwon Oh Sang said for the growing Korean business market, Kenya represents a destination hub where Koreans wishing to spend their disposable income can travel.
“We have waited a long time to start this regular flight. The Korean market is growing in tourism and business. We are excepting Nairobi to not only be the tourism hub for Africa but make Nairobi a successful destination,” he said.
Regular flights from South Korea are expected to begin on June 21, frequenting Nairobi three times a week.
It is estimated that earnings from the sector could have for the first time hit the Sh100 billion mark in 2011 while the number of tourists is estimated to have reached one million visitors during the period.