First-hand tourists’ experience crucial to nation branding

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BY MARY KIMONYE

As the tourism industry grows, so does the competition between tourist destinations as they compete to attract visitors. The concept of Destination Branding offers countries a framework in which they can differentiate themselves from other destinations offering similar experiences.

Destination branding is therefore a crucial aspect of today’s tourism industry. Across the world and across the airwaves, televisions and billboards are projecting images of sand, sea and sunshine, snow-white ski slopes, spectacular landscapes, stunning sun sets, perfect starlit nights and warm smiling faces, all tempting hopeful travelers with the promise of a perfect holiday destination.

To the traveler, there are tens of thousands of destinations; from cities to museums to attractions to exotic resorts. Hence destinations are fighting to get the consumer’s attention. What separates the wheat from the chaff in this competition is a strong and clearly articulated brand position.

Indeed, tourism promotion, as well as people’s first-hand experience of visiting the country as tourists or business travelers is crucial to nation branding. This is often the loudest voice in branding a nation and Kenya is one of the world’s preferred tourism destinations. It’s a tourism jewel known for its remarkable diversity of landscapes, from vast savannahs wildlife, tropical beaches, coral reef, dense equatorial forests. From vast savannahs to tropical beaches and coral reef, dense equatorial forests to the snow capped Mt Kenya and much more.

It is the home to the famous African Safari, and the habitat to Africa’s famous ‘Big Five’ – Lion, Elephant, Rhino, Leopard and Buffalo. Kenya is arguably the best location to see these magnificent species in their natural environment. The breathtaking and inspiring wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara dubbed “the new 7th wonder of the world” is a memorable experience.

This constitutes the Kenya Brand; a destination status which must be maintained for Kenya to remain memorable in the tourists’ minds.

(Mrs Kimonye is the Chief Executive Officer, Brand Kenya Board)

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