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Chinese arrivals up 4%

03 October 2013, 18:05

Nairobi - Chinese arrivals to Kenya in the 2012-2013 period rose by 4 percent, making the Asian country one of the top 10 tourist source markets for the nation.

The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) has thus predicted increased arrivals up to 100,000 Chinese tourists after the number rose to 38,000 during the same period.

"Despite being a long haul destination and a growing market, the number of tourists visiting Kenya from the country has grown tremendously over the last seven years to rank among the top tourists source markets," Phyllis Kandie, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, said in Nairobi on Wednesday during the launch of the Total Solar Eclipse Sighting.

Industry officials have linked the rising number of Chinese visiting the country to increased trade and contact between the two countries.

Chinese hoteliers have invested millions of dollars in the hospitality industry and lately acquired 60 acres of land in Amboseli National Park where a lodge has been constructed, and which recently played host to a Chinese actress and a battery of her crew.

Kandie said the country was committed to investing more in the emerging markets of Middle East and domestic tourism and added that her ministry is working extra hard to ensure the country joined the world's big league in tourism.

"Kenya as a destination boasts unrivalled natural beauty and diversity that we must tell the rest of the world about now," she said.

"Plans to make this happen are ongoing. Later this month, we will host the gala for the World Travel Awards (WTA)-Africa Category which will take place on Oct. 16."

The cabinet secretary said that a few days after the gala, Kenya will host travel agents from close to 30 countries during the third edition of the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo (MKTE) from Oct. 18 to 20.

On Nov. 3 a total solar eclipse will pass over Kenya along one of Kenya's major tourist attractions, Sibiloi National Park, which is situated beside the world's largest desert lake, the Turkana.

Kandie termed the occurrence once-in-a-lifetime spectacle and invited visitors from around the world to travel to the area and enjoy the event as they sample other tourist attractions in the country.

"We have a unique opportunity to tap into astro-tourism. This is one of the major events on the global tourist scene and we encourage local, regional and international tourists to take advantage of the packages on offer by local tour operators to enable them to be part of this spectacular event.

The cabinet secretary confirmed that over 1,000 astro-tourists, researchers and adventurers have so far placed bookings for the eclipse tour which begins in Nairobi on Oct. 24 and ends on Nov. 6.

Solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the sun and the earth and directly bocks the light of the sun.

The Nov. 3 solar eclipse, which will pass over equatorial Gabon, Congo, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, will be seen in Kenya for 15 seconds at 5:25 p.m. local time, during which the area will experience total darkness.

Though short, nevertheless the occasion is considered to be one of the most awe-inspiring spectacles in all of nature, and which is worth seeing.

During the solar eclipse, the sky will take on an eerie twilight as the black disk of the moon replaces the sun's bright face. Surrounding the moon will be a beautiful hazy halo, which is a super-heated plasma two million degrees in temperature.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) MD Muriithi Ndegwa said the last time a total solar eclipse was sighted in Kenya was in 1973 around Lake Turkana during which over 20,000 domestic and international sightseers visited the area to witness the incident.

He said astrologists from the University of Nairobi have already done a reconnaissance visit to the area to map out coordinates and have confirmed that the national park will be the right place to be.

Kenya has been placed on the world map boasting as one of the best locations on earth to view this hybrid total solar eclipse, which according to scientists is a rare occurrence.

Ndegwa said this event will be used to showcase Northern Kenya as an additional tourism attraction with the promise of adventure tourism and exploitation of astro and archaeological Tourism.

"This gives Kenya an opportunity to showcase other parts of the country not known to many. Tourists - both local and international- will have the chance to experience world class desert safaris while visiting the Cradle of Humankind (Northern Tourist Circuit), " he said. 



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