Kenya’s Tourism Board eyes Mumbai expo to grow numbers
The Indian Tourism Statistics 2022 report reveals India receiving 677.63 million domestic tourist visits in 2021. The percentage has increased by 11.05% from 610.22 in 2020.
By Monica MUEMA
Kenya is set to sign business deals in the Indian market as Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) leads travel trade members to this year’s Outbound Travel Mart (OTM) tourism fair in the country.
The expo to be held at the Jio World Convention Centre, in Mumbai from 2nd to 4th February, brings together exhibitors from over 60 countries as destinations globally smart out of the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.
Over 14 Kenyan travel trade partners will take part in the 3 –day exhibitions with the country seeking to reposition itself in the Indian market whose growth has picked up to about 90% by the close of last year compared to 2021.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) acting CEO John Chirchir says OTM is giving Kenya an opportunity for re-entry into the Indian market that was severely affected with travel because of Covid-19 pandemic.
“India is one of the markets whose travel was negatively impacted with the Covid-19, we are now making a physical presence in the market after about 2 years of absence, and we hope to reap big from the fair,” says Chirchir.
The OTM tourism fair is the largest gathering of travel trade buyers and professionals in India with over 1300 exhibitors from over 60 countries attending. Kenya’s participation in this event will allow it to tap into the growing Indian tourism market and promote its offerings to Indian travelers.
In 2022, the arrivals into Kenya from the Indian source market recorded a growth of 93.2% from 42,159 in 2021 to 81,458 in 2022. This is a recovery of 67% compared to the 2019 performance of 120,893.
Chirchir says the growth is a positive indication that the tourism business in India is on the right track to recovery even as KTB rolls out key promotional and marketing campaigns in the market.
Ahead of the expo, KTB will also participate in roadshows in the three Indian cities of Ahmedabad, Bangalore and New Delhi between 30th January and 6 February.
“These are part of our many initiatives to bring the market back to its performance recorded before the covid-19 pandemic. Attributes such as ease of access and connectivity, all-weather season as well as tourism offering that cut across all the segments have continued to pull Indian travelers to Kenya,” said the CEO .
Last year, KTB hosted a familiarization trip in Nairobi for India’s leading travel companies, launched joint promotional campaigns with marketing companies such as FCM Travel Solutions India and Yatra to build traveler confidence.
Kenya Tourism Federation Chairman Fred Odek said international exhibitions remain a key platform of wooing international travelers, which he said were key in contributing to the revenue receipt for the sector.
He said domestic tourism has sustained the tourism business through the Covid-19 pandemic period but added that international travelers have contributed a lion share in terms of revenues and lauded KTB for stepping up its in-marketing activities.
“It is important we sustain our in-bound market to keep up with the competing destinations that are beefing up their numbers to 2019. We are optimistic that we are going to sign new contracts during the OTM event,” said the Chairman.
Regional Sales and Marketing Director for Serena Hotels East Africa Rosemary Mugambi expressed her optimism that the OTM is expected to impact on the rise of hotel bookings within a short period.
She said there is a lot of interest from Indian travelers to the country and the OTM expo comes at the right time when Kenya was re-igniting the market that comes in handy during the low tourism season.
According to Mugambi, international exhibitions continue enhancing top of mind awareness of Kenya among travelers and investors alike and hailed KTB for identifying key markets for exhibition and promotional activities.
Kenya’s Tourismsector contributed nearly 10% of the country’s GDP pre-Covid19.
In 2015, international visitor arrivals were 1,459,500 and international tourism receipts reached Ksh 84.6 billion. By 2019, these numbers grew to international visitor arrivals at 2,048,834 and receipts of Ksh 163.6 billion. In 2020, tourism performance was expected to continue growing with a 7.5% increase in international visitor arrivals.
The emergence of COVID-19 sent shockwaves to the tourism sector, bringing it to a halt globally. In Kenya, tourism establishments were closed, with the workforce laid off.
The New Tourism Strategy for Kenya 2021-2025 is Kenya’s response in reimagining the future of the tourism sector. In this strategy, we have set out our priority ambitions for both recovery and growth of the sector.
The strategy is founded on four strategic shifts: Kenya becoming an all-year-round tourism destination; creating new and more diverse customer experiences and products; building a refreshed brand image and repositioning Kenya as an upmarket, sustainable destination; and developing enablers including unlocking alternative and innovative sources of funding and optimizing the adoption of digital innovations and new technologies by the sector.
The strategy has four (4) components – namely, Brand, Marketing, Experiences, and Enablers – and nine (9) initiatives, including brand repositioning, developing new and existing international source markets, scaling the domestic tourism market, developing a new and improved experience in parks and reserves, strengthening coastal beach tourism, creating and promoting niche experiences, and developing enablers for the sector such as digital systems, sustainability standards, and improved sector financing.
This strategy was informed by data and information obtained from local, regional, and international players and is expected to be a reference point going forward in informing policies, plans, and areas for financing.
The successful implementation of this strategy will however require all tourism industry stakeholders to work in synergy. We are indebted to the tourism industry stakeholders who provided robust engagement and their commitment during the development of this strategy.