STRATEGY

Kenya woos EAC peers with infrastructure in tourism growth plan

Uganda and Tanzania are Kenya’s second and third top market sources for international visitors.

In Summary

•Last year, visitors from Uganda totaled 80,067 while Tanzania arrivals were 74,051 with business and MICE being the main reason.

•The country is seen to diversify from the traditional beach and safari products it has been competing with Tanzania for years.

An aerial view of Nairobi City.
An aerial view of Nairobi City.
Image: MERCY MUMO

Kenya is fronting its infrastructure and investment by global brands in the country as part of its attractiveness, in a move seeking to increase visitor numbers from the region.

This is in addition to the traditional beach and safari products, which it is competing for the market with neighbouring Tanzania.

Kenya Tourism Board is also marketing Kenya as a medical tourist destination in the region, together with over 40 signature experiences among them mountaineering, humpback whale watching, mountaineering and running with the country’s renowned athletes.

KTB regional marketing manager Alex Tunoi said the country has invested heavily in infrastructure, which has made its four cities easy to access and navigate.

These includes investment in key airport facilities among them JKIA, Moi Airport (Mombasa), Kisumu, Eldoret, Malindi, Lamu and Ukunda, and and an expansive rail and road network.

The Sh87.9 billion Nairobi Expressway which is nearing completion will  make it convenient for travellers to move between the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ,hotels and tourist attraction cites in the city.

The Standard Gauge Railway, regional and local airlines have also made it convenient to travel into the country and connect to the coastal city of Mombasa and parks around the country, Tunoi said.

High end hospitals and wellness facilities also make Kenya a medical tourism destination.

International brands have also set base in the country, mainly Nairobi, Tunoi said, making Kenya a leading shopping destination in the region.

“You don’t have to travel far to shop. Kenyan will give you an excellent shopping experience,” he said during a virtual meeting that brought together industry players from the East African Community, on Thursday.

The country is currently putting in place a strong post-Covid recovery strategy targeted at domestic, regional and international visitors.

Uganda and Tanzania are Kenya’s second and third top market sources for international visitors, respectively, after the US.

Last year, visitors from Uganda totaled 80,067 while Tanzania arrivals were 74,051 with business and MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) being the main reason.

The US led with 136,981 as the sector showed recovery signs on international arrivals which increased 53.3 per cent, to 870,465, up from 567,848 in 202.

Meanwhile, the East African Community is keen to market the region to the international markets as a block, while increasing intra-regional tourism and travel.

“We must have an EAC strategy for post Covid recovery,” said Simon Kiarie, Principal Tourism Officer at the EAC secretariat, “We need to develop multi-destination packages.”

The region targets to attract at least 14 million international arrivals by 2025, with over 30 million people being able to travel across the EAC.

Tourism accounts for up to 10 per cent of the region’s GDP, creating over four million jobs.

During the pandemic, arrivals dropped by more than 70 per cent to 2.2 million with over two millions jobs lost.

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