Kenya takes fight for market share to China

KENYA TOURISM TAKES AIM AT CHINESE MARKET

(Posted 08th March 2014)

The Kenya Tourism Board and 11 companies from Kenya are taking their marketing efforts to Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu and Guangzhou immediately after the ITB 2014 has ended, it was learned yesterday. This is the second time Kenya is rolling out a dedicated sales and marketing mission in these key Chinese cities to build on past successes which saw arrivals by travellers from China soar in recent years.

The market has shown considerable growth over the years with added arrivals of over 20 percent per year since 2006. Visitors from China by the end of 2011 stood at 37.400 growing by 10.3 percent to 41.300 by the end of 2012. By mid 2013 almost half of the same number had been received already.

This remarkable record in growth in the past few years can be attributed to past aggressive marketing by KTB which has continued to focus more on consumer awareness programmes both on line such as through Weibo as well as in consumer events. Training of the trade has improved their knowledge on Kenya as a preferred destination.

Close working relations with the media especially CCTV and other Chinese TV stations that have filmed specific attractions like the Masai Mara migration have also propelled brand awareness. These have increased positive destination publicity while strategic partnerships have availed opportunity to leverage on joint events. Airline connectivity has been an added advantage as Kenya Airways, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad and Ethiopian Airlines fly to major cities in China such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Chongqing and Hong Kong.

Statistics from the National Tourism Administration show that Chinese residents made 83.18 million trips overseas in 2012. China’s outbound travel increased by over 20 percent in recent years and as such China is leading the top ten countries and regions with the fastest growth of outbound travel expenditure, according to the recent data from the UN World Tourism Organization. China took the lead with a growth rate of 30 percent and the number of Chinese travelling overseas is estimated to reach 200 million by 2030, according to a UNWTO report published in 2012. According to China Outbound Tourism Research Institute together with Rossetto Solutions, China will become the leading global outbound tourism source market in 2013, with 90 million border-crossings estimated, overtaking Germany and the USA both in terms of numbers of travels and expenditure. Chinese tourists’ overseas spending is expected to rise to 190 billion US Dollars by 2015. The national tourism administration reported 4 million Chinese traveled overseas during the 2013 Chinese New Year Holidays, an increase of 14% which is a new travel record.

Africa and Kenya in particular are still a relatively untapped destination and many Chinese companies are now setting up branch offices in Kenya. This is an opportunity in addition to the appealing tourism product that KTB is leveraging on and indeed putting in more resources to the emerging markets like China and India.

This latest KTB road show comes at the backdrop of Kenya’s win of an award for ‘Most Potential Overseas Tourism Destination’ at the 2013 Ctrip Year Best Tourism Destination Network Selection Awards. The award ceremony was held by Ctrip on 28th February 2014 at the Shanghai Hyatt Hotel, bringing in more than 300 guests from domestic and foreign tourism bureaus, enterprises, institutions and media. Mr. Cui, on behalf of Kenya Tourism Board’s China office, attended the event and accepted the award on behalf of KTB. This year is the fifth edition of this annual selection campaign for leading tourism destinations which is the largest one in China. China’s leading online tourism company Ctrip Group has organized and launched this event in 2009 and for this year’s awards a two month campaign attracted online votes from approximately 3 million net-users.

The result reflects the increasing awareness and recognition of Kenya’s diverse tourism products among Chinese tourists. Moreover, it is believed that China’s market continuously represents an expanding opportunity for Kenya’s tourism sector.

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