Kenya plans to more than double international tourist arrival in the next five years, as the industry moves towards full recovery in post- pandemic era.

Kenya Tourism Board is seeking to grow arrivals into the country to 5.5 million by 2028, in an ambitious plan that involves the private sector.

It is reaching out to industry players for collaborative efforts to market the country.

According to KTB chairperson Francis Gichaba, the sector is back on full recovery with arrivals by end of the current financial year expected to close at slightly over 1.9 million visitors.

“We are very optimistic that with the support from the private sector and other key players in the industry, our performance will even surpass the 2019 arrivals to over 2 million and progressively beyond,” said Gichaba.

He was speaking at Bomas of Kenya yesterday during a tourism stakeholder meeting that brought together hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, tourism associations and government agencies.

The session sought to validate KTB’s five-year strategic plan for 2023-2028.

In the strategy, KTB is targeting to achieve 5.5 million international tourist arrivals and grow the tourism sector contribution to Kenya’s economy to Sh 1 trillion annually by June 2028.

The Tourism Research Institute has projected this year’s arrivals at 1.9 million with the number expected to grow to 2.2 million in 2024.

In 2022, arrivals were 1,483,752 which was a 70.5 per cent increase compared to 2021 arrivals of 870,465.

The country’s best year remains 2019 when arrivals hit a high of 2.04 million visitors with earnings of Sh296.2 billion.

Earnings are expected to hit Sh359.1 billion next year, and then Sh396.1 billion the year after.

“The projections were informed by global economic factors and Covid recovery patterns. The effects of the Russia invasion of Ukraine on some key markets and on global tourism supply channels was also taken on board,” TRI acting Chief Executive Officer David Gitonga told the Star.

Its based on economically tested tourism prediction models that TRI has acquired, contracted, he added.

Yesterday, Gichaba said destination marketing was a collaborative exercise, noting that the involvement of the private sector in the strategy development was one of the ways of incorporating invaluable ideas that would shape the sector’s performance within the review period.

Kenya Hotel Keepers Association and Caterers CEO Mike Macharia on his part, called on the private players to tailor their product and experiences to the needs of the market.

“We talk of Africa as the low hanging fruit in terms of numbers and market share into the country and therefore, the product owners should package their products and experience and sell to Africa, “Macharia said.

This move, he said, would also open opportunities for Africans to invest in Kenya’s hospitality sector.

While lauding KTB for consolidating industry’s input in its strategy, the KAHC chief challenged the marketing agency not to downsize on in-market promotional activities.

These includes participating in tourism fairs such as World Travel Market and International Tourism Bourse among others, which he noted as ways of increasing brand visibility.

“We have to go where the market is, and this is what our competitors such as South Africa have beaten us on. They have invested heavily on market presence not only to build brand awareness but to sign marketing deals,” Macharia said.

In the KTB strategy, the sector is looking to grow Kenya’s market share in Africa to six per cent from the current 2.26 per cent and increase employment contribution from 7.9 per cent in 2022, to an annual growth 10 per cent.

On the Gross Domestic Product, the tourism marketing agency is targeting to move from 6.4 per cent recorded last year to 10 per cent by 2027.

The performance of the domestic market is also expected to grow from the current bed nights of five million to about 7.4 million in 2028.  

Source: The Star

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