Kenya eyes greater share of intra African travel


(Posted 05th June 2018)


Kenya is looking to tap into growing intra-Africa travel to expand its tourism sector as African countries seek to create a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala has said Kenya’s tourism industry is increasingly reaping from the strong business, cultural and linguistic ties between African countries that have made the intra-regional travel a vibrant growth market.

Speaking on the sidelines of the 61st UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa Conference in Abuja, Nigeria, CS Balala said:

In 2017, Africa accounted for 29% of international arrivals to Kenya. Indeed, Africa has shown great potential over the last five years gaining a 5% share of arrivals by region over the past five years. We believe Africa is the next frontier in the tourism business.”

The Tourism CS, who is also the Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa,credited this to Kenya’s increased investment in African markets such as Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Ethiopia and Rwanda over the last 3 years.

As part of that investment, Africans wishing to visit Kenya are now eligible to receive a visa on arrival. Kenya is now among 21 African countries which have either relaxed or scrapped visa rules,” added CS Balala.

Meanwhile, Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has rolled out an upskilling training programme targeted at emerging travel agents in Nigeria who are making the transition from ticketing agents to travel agents. The training programme entails two-day training workshops that will be held in the cities of Abuja, Lagos and Port Harcourt over the next one week.

Speaking at the launch of the training programme, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala said the workshops will deliver practical skills to the Nigeria trade that will result in better packages, sales and promotion of packages around Kenya’s tourism product.

CS Balala further said, “I am encouraged to note that Nigerian Tour Operators and Online Travel Agents are increasing their product offering from just offering return tickets to airport transfers, excursions and accommodation. The training programme is part of the wider strategy on tourism marketing and promotion activities that we are implementing to ensure that Kenya as a tourist destination remains top of mind among Nigerian travelers.”

KTB Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier has said the tourism industry in Nigeria is in need of more travel agents who can confidently sell Kenya’s offering as a destination.

Nigeria, which is Africa’s largest economy, is one of the markets that have shown resilience and potential for growth hence Kenya’s entry. One of our strategies to grow the Nigerian market is to improve the competitive positioning of Kenya in the sales system by offering travel agents practical skills that can enable them to take a more professional approach to selling the destination.”

For the past few years, KTB has trained over 300 travel agents in West Africa to equip them with information on Kenya’s tourism products.

Last year, KTB conducted a consumer and travel trade research in Nigeria whose insights pointed to the need to improve Kenya’s competitive positioning in Nigeria’s sales system. With this in mind, KTB has been working closely with Nigeria travel trade to position Kenya as a premium destination among Nigeria’s affluent seekers.

KTB has also partnered with national carrier, Kenya Airways to strengthen the link between the destination and Nigerian travel agents by demystifying its price structures to the travel agent and showcasing its growing route network. Kenya Airways currently operates two daily flights from Lagos.

Since 2009, arrivals to Kenya from Nigeria have steady grown from 11,072 in 2009 to 16,165 in 2017, reflecting a 46% growth in arrivals. In the first quarter of 2018 (January to March), the market posted 3,434 visitors up from 3,101 recorded during the same period in 2017, translating to a 10.7% growth.

Travel from Nigeria to Kenya continues to be for business and leisure purposes. Between 2015 and 2016, leisure travel grew from 50% of total arrivals in 2015 to 61% of total arrivals in 2016. Urban centres such as Nairobi and Mombasa hold the highest appeal due to the rich offering of social scene and shopping.

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