Kenya’s coveted position came after a hotly contested voting by travel agents across the globe which has been going on for the last one year and culminating into last week’s 19th World Travel Awards held at Beach Turks and Caicos Resort in the United Kingdom.
The award places the country in the limelight as a tourist destination having beaten South Africa which has won for the last four years.
Other African countries which competed with Kenya included Egypt, Namibia, Nigeria, Ghana and Morocco among others.
The tourism industry in the country has termed the award ‘good tidings’ as it comes at a time when the country has had negative publicity occasioned by cases of insecurity.
“Kenya stood out for its sustained innovative and cutting edge marketing campaigns targeting both the traditional and new niche market segments, in an increasingly competitive global tourism industry,” said KTB Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa.
He noted that over the last two years, KTB has been receiving impressive results following the successful implementation of the products diversification strategy, adoption of new promotion strategies, increased advertising campaigns and partnerships with major tour operators worldwide.
“This award is an outstanding endorsement for the investment we have made in positioning Kenya as the premier tourism destination in Africa, and a worthy competitor in the global platform. We are honored to be recognized as Africa’s Leading Tourist Board this year,” he said.
Last year, Kenyan tourism recorded 1.8 million arrivals accounting for 11 percent growth over 2010 and Minister for Tourism Dan Mwazo said the government is committed to providing incentives such as tax holidays, land on lease, single licensing, exemption of duty and 100 percent investment allowance for investors to attract investment in the country.
The ceremony saw 50 awards being presented to travel industry practitioners across the Caribbean region, North and South America.
“While we have been in contention for this and other awards, this is by far one of the greatest achievements we have received,” Muriithi said.
“We are alive to the fact that we must sustain our lead, through additional investments in the sector to ensure that the Kenyan experience for tourists remains unmatched,” he emphasised.
The World Travel Awards, described by the Wall Street Journal as the ‘Oscars’ of the global travel and tourism industry, serves to acknowledge, reward and celebrate excellence across all sectors of the global travel, tourism and hospitality industry
The Awards were first held in 1994, as a tourism industry initiative, with travel agencies, tour and transport companies and tourism organizations across the globe voting for the winners.
The award places KTB in the same league with the other winning tourist boards in the Europe, Caribbean, Americas and Middle East categories for the World Travel Awards Grand Final, which will take place at the Oberoi, Gurgaon in Delhi on December 12th.