Social media remedy to Kenya's tourism lull
21 September 2014, 10:57
Nairobi - Kenya is set to use social media to promote its tourism
industry that is currently on its knees due to security challenges posed
by terrorist attacks.
Kenya is set to use social media to promote its
tourism industry that is currently on its knees due to security
challenges posed by terrorist attacks.
The East African nation will in the next months start using Facebook,
Twitter, blogs and Instagram to reach out to potential tourists across
the world in new and traditional source markets.
The effort is spearheaded by the Tourism Recovery Task Force (TRTF)
under the Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism.
"We are calling on active social media users to collaborate with the
TRTF to position the country as a preferred destination for tourism,
conferencing and investment," Donald Kipkorir, chairman of marketing and
branding committee of the task force said on Thursday.
Tourism analysts have lauded the move, noting that it is long overdue
since social media is the single most powerful communication tool
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Sandra Rwese, director of Gulu and Hirst, a tourism marketing agency,
noted that Kenya is on the right track as using social media is
practical, effective and reaches out to millions of people.
"Social media is not only a novel method of tourism promotion and
marketing but realistically speaking, it is the only way to capture the
new generation of digitally conscious consumers, especially the younger
travellers, some who help their parents make decision on which country
to visit," she said.
According to Rwese, whose agency deals with social media marketing,
youngsters are silent brand ambassadors who play a pivotal role in
influencing some family financial decisions.
"They can easily steer a family vacation to Disneyland, or a kayaking
holiday adventure, even to the Kenyan coast during December school
holidays. Youth markets are worth an estimated 136 billion U.S. dollars
worldwide," she said.
The analyst observed that no country today can stick to traditional
methods of promoting itself as a tourist destination and win the numbers
"Unbeknownst to most leading hospitality operators is the fact that
social platforms have taken over the more traditional print- based
promotional platforms like billboards, pamphlets and expos. You cannot
rely on such platforms to reach out to millions of people across the
world," she said, adding that social media is cheaper and faster despite
its wide reach.
"This new media is easy to set-up, and gives tourism outfits
immeasurable brand power online. It has direct social outreach and
impact on people planning vacations, tours, safaris or other leisure
experiences both locally and abroad. A single social update, online
game, or QR code can go viral in hours, and see ordinary businesses rake
in staggering profits down the line," the analyst said.
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Rwese noted Kenya's tourism players have to understand various social
media applications, and know how they can best serve their strategies
when starting marketing themselves on social media. She also said the
administrator matters most in any successful social media tourism
"You need to build a team: one where infrastructure development is
assigned to social strategists (preferably under age 30), and the team
is led by an experienced content manager ideally over age 40," she said,
adding bilingual candidates should also be encouraged into the team.
The analyst, who links tourism firms from Africa to Chinese market,
observed that Kenya should use the online social networks to reach both
domestic and international tourists.
Kenya's tourism sector is currently in crisis due to security
challenges that have led to issuance of travel advisories by U.S.,
Australia, France and Britain.
According to Kenya Tourism Board, Kenya has received 428,233 tourists
in the first half of this year, down from 495,660 in the same period
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