- In a fresh strategy, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) says arrivals from China hold massive potential in contributing to the country’s tourism earnings.
- China accounted for 82,180 and 83,388 arrivals in 2018 and 2019 respectively positioning itself as Kenya’s sixth largest source market.
- Before the pandemic, China was the world’s largest outbound travel market with over 150 million travelers, whose spending contributed up to $255 billion to global tourism industry.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) is looking to capitalize on outdoor and nature-based tourism experiences, a move aimed at attracting a significant number of Chinese tourists to sample the sector’s offerings in East Africa’s largest economy.
KTB Chairperson Francis Gichaba says the initiative is part of the state agency’s efforts to shore up tourism numbers from the growing Chinese market even as the industry recovers from Covid-19 pandemic-induced hit.
Mr Gichaba said the new strategy is aimed at increasing arrivals from the Chinese market which according to him holds massive potential for contributing to Kenya’s annual tourism earnings.
“The post-Covid recovery plan for Kenya’s tourism sector hinges on capitalizing on our advantage in nature and outdoor experiences. We are shifting towards sustainable models of tourism in Kenya.
“This means it is imperative that we deepen our engagement and relations with key markets like China to find synergies to enhance marketing efforts and optimize opportunities,” he noted.
China is a growing market, having accounted for 82,180 and 83,388 arrivals in 2018 and 2019 respectively positioning itself as Kenya’s 6th largest source market.
The chairman was optimistic that the recent reopening of the Chinese market was a great opportunity to grow arrivals from the region given the growing number of affluent middle-class Chinese travelers.
Recently, China Square, a populous store stocked with cheap wares located at the Unicity mall near Kenyatta University off Thika Superhighway was reopened only a week after it had been closed indefinitely over import and trading brawl between the investor and top government officials.
Sentiments over unfair business practices fermented erupting into a protest in Nairobi’s CBD by small-scale traders who said Chinese traders are taking over their business.
The Gikomba, Nyamakima, Muthurwa, and Eastleigh traders accused China Square, a business owned by Chinese investor Lei Cheng of unfair business competition.
Mr Gichaba, however, appeared to downplay the matter welcoming the resumption of operations of China Square and noting that Kenya needed to further deepen its engagement with key markets such as China to find synergies to enhance marketing efforts and optimize opportunities
The KTB Chairperson made these remarks during the annual Kenya Chinese Tourism Association (KCTA) golf tournament held at the Windsor Golf Hotel and Country Club, Nairobi.
At least 120 players and enthusiasts drawn from the Chinese community residing in Kenya participated in a golf series that was sponsored by the Diamond Trust Bank (DTB) Group.
Travel products and services
The tourney forms part of events held by KCTA with the aim of connecting the diverse community to explore and experience Kenya’s travel products and services.
KCTA has over five hundred members pulled from different sectors with the potential to influence their friends and families for both domestic and international travel.
“Golf tourism is part of the rich portfolio of outdoor experiences that are proving to be a strong attraction for Chinese tourists. With a travel-savvy population that is willing to explore and try new experiences, Kenya stands in a great position to tap on this promising potential and consequently re-assert itself as a destination offering golf and other outdoor attractions.” KCTA Chairperson, Zhang Yuanxiang, said
He added, “we are delighted to partner with KTB, DTB Group, and other partners to execute a strategy for Kenya to get a share of the increasing Chinese outbound market.”
Before the pandemic, China was the world’s largest outbound travel market with over 150 million outbound travelers, whose spending contributed up to $255 billion of global tourism spending. The Chinese travel market is highly diversified, with a tendency to prefer group leisure travel.
Kenya’s tourism industry, one of the East African nation’s top revenue sources, almost doubled in 2022, going up 83 percent to $2.13 billion as Covid-19 restrictions eased across the globe.
A report released by the Kenyan government back in February indicated that visitors rebounded to 72 percent of their pre-pandemic level in 2019.
The East African nation offers beach holidays along its Indian Ocean coastline and wildlife safaris inland.
Latest travel data shows the United States was the main source of visitors into Kenya during the year followed by Uganda, Britain and Tanzania.