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Kenya, China set to sign MOU on tourism

07 September 2014, 10:17

Nairobi - The Kenyan and Chinese governments are set to sign a Memorandum of Understanding on cooperation in tourism as part of the renewed effort to attract visitors from the Asian nation, a senior government official said on Friday.

Cabinet Secretary East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie told Xinhua in an exclusive interview in Nairobi that she will lead a Kenyan delegation to China International Fair on Investment and Trade later this month.

"The MOU is part of the deals that were agreed upon during Chinese Premier's visit to Kenya earlier in the year," Kandie said. During the visit she will also meet the officials from China National Tourism Administration so that they can finalize the tourism deal.

"I will use the visit to promote Kenya as a tourist destination, " she said.

In 2013, Chinese tourists accounted for 37,000 of Kenya's approximately one million international visitors.

Kandie said the number will rise as Kenya engages closer with China as well as the marketing blitz the East African nation has embarked on to market the country to the Chinese as a favorable destination.

If the agreement will be signed, Kandie said the government will then roll out a comprehensive strategy to woo more Chinese into the country. "Both nations will engage in joint promotion of tourists on the ground," she said.

Kenya is currently negotiating with China in order to increase the number of direct flights and destinations that Kenya Airways flies into China.

"We are convinced that a lot more tourists can come to Kenya," she said. According to Kandie, both nations will soon embark on joint tourism promotion activities.

The two nations hope to increase the number of Chinese inbound tourists by partnering with China-based travel agents.

Kenya will also need to upgrade its capacity so that it can absorb more Chinese tourists.

Also Read: Tanzania challenges violence-hit Kenya as regional tourism hub

She said the Asian tourists need specialized services in terms of cuisines and language and so Kenya's university curriculum will need to include courses on Chinese culture.

According to her, tourism contributes about 20 percent to Kenya's GDP. "We want to expand the sector by increasing the contribution of cultural, business and sport tourism," she said.

The Ministry of Tourism said most Chinese tourists come during the two months window period around the annual wildebeest migration.

"Most Chinese tourists come in groups and so it is easy to scale up their numbers," Kandie said.

"We would like more Chinese companies to set up factories in order to promote value addition of our local raw materials," she said.

- Xinhua

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