By MACHARIA KAMAU
The country has seen the number of tourists from China grow from just a handful to 38, 000 in the 2012/13 financial year and it now counts as among the top 10 tourist source markets for Kenya. The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) expects this to grow to over 100, 000 by 2016.
The UK, US and Italy are the largest source markets and contributed 171, 000 ( UK), 116, 000( US) and 81, 000 ( Italy) of the 1.2 million tourists to Kenya during the last financial year. Other key markets are India (66 000) and Germany (64 000).
Other than India, which has been on steady growth in recent years, the other countries – UK, US, Italy and Germany, which have formed the countries core source markets in the past – were on the decline.
The two Asian countries – China and India – seem set to be key tourist source markets for Kenya, posting double digit growth while European markets are on a decline.
“China is a growing market… the number of tourists coming to Kenya from the country has experienced phenomenal growth in the last several years. It is now on the list of our top ten tourist source markets, four to five years ago, they were not anywhere on our radar,” said Muriithi Ndegwa managing director KTB.
He said the board started giving China some attention in 2004 and since then it has seen the arrival numbers from the country grow by double digits every year.
“We expect the number to grow significantly in the short term… this could go to 80 000 in say two years and over 100 000 in three years,” Ndegwa added. He said KTB is undertaking a series of marketing activities to market Kenya to the Asian country.
“We have been marketing Kenya to first tier cities like Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. In our upcoming campaigns we will market the country in second tier cities, where we will be able to create more awareness in the Chinese market,” he said.
Kenya has made attempts to diversify tourist source markets to avoid heavy reliance on the Western European and North American markets.