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Kenya to embark on online campaign to woo tourists

23 May 2014, 08:00

Nairobi - Kenya will embark on an online campaign to woo tourists back into the country, the nation's tourism body said on Thursday.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa told journalists in Nairobi that the recent insecurity incidences have affected the country's reputation as a safe destination.

"An aggressive online reputation management will be implemented globally in order to provide positive visibility for Kenya," Ndegwa said.

"Hotel bookings have been down in the past few months with tourists having left the coastal town of Mombasa in the last week, " Ndegwa said.

He added that the six months campaign will target key source markets including the English speaking U.S., Britain, Ireland, Australia, Canada, South Africa, India, Nigeria and Ghana.

The campaign will also target Spanish speaking Latin America as well as China, Japan, the Gulf States, Scandinavia and the Czech Republic.

"Our aim is to provide factual information to both consumers and the travel trade so as build a reservoir of positive online reviews for Kenya's tourism," he said.

According to KTB, the government has already procured a consultant to carry out the exercise. "The firm will conduct a social media content analysis that will advise on the best strategy to optimize content," he said.

"We want to create barriers for any future negativity relating to the insecurity issues in Kenya," he said. The exercise will also incorporate initiatives to increase demand by supporting travel agents who already have Kenya as a product.

Various travel advisories issued by several countries, among them the U.S., Britain and Australia, have had a negative perception on Kenya as a preferred tourist's destination.

"As a result, the brand equity of Kenya as a safe destination is at stake and any future travel cancellations may lead to loss of the upcoming season," he said.

He noted that some of the measures will take time to bear fruit but every nation has its unique security challenges.

"Terrorism is not peculiarly a Kenya phenomenon and as such it would be unfair for anyone to expect the country to have a magic wand to deal with the problem," he said.

He added that the government is working closely with the private sector to enhance security.

KTB Acting Marketing Director Jacinta Nzioka said that the turnaround in tourism performance will be achieved through the aggressive media offensive targeting consumers directly.

"We want to showcase popular destinations to the international media," she said. Nzioka noted that Kenya plans to create new internet content including blogs and articles that will be syndicated globally.

"The aim is to reverse the decline of the tourism sector," she said. The marketing director said that Kenya will also leverage on its large pool of sportsmen and women who continue to do Kenya proud.

"We want to identify key people who will appeal to different markets through their influence," she said. KTB is also hoping to increase domestic tourism's contribution to overall sector.

"We are planning to increase its contribution from the current 41 percent to 60 percent in the medium term," she said.

She added that local tourists will help make the industry more sustainable by cushioning the sector during the low seasons.

She noted that the East African Community partner states as well as rest of Africa are also low hanging fruits.

"Most of the continent's people appreciate the authenticity of Kenya's tourism products," she said.

"They more easily identify with the warmth of the Kenya people and consider the country suitable for shopping, medical tourism and for education," Nzioka said.

 - Xinhua

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