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Affluent retirees to boost tourism in Kenya

By Nicholas Waitathu | June 5th 2015

NAIROBI: Kenya has launched a campaign targeting affluent retirees from developed countries to revive the struggling tourism industry.

East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phylis Kandie yesterday said the country will send a delegation to attend the Milan expo-tourism month in Italy to market Malindi and Watamu as retirement destinations for retirees from Europe and America.

The new campaign, said Kandie, is informed by the need to attract more tourists to boost recovery of the tourism industry.

She said the decision was informed by the economic situation in most European countries where retirees are looking for cheaper destinations due to tightening liquidity.

"Destinations such as Malindi and Watamu in our coastal region have long been popular in the Italian market and Italians have contributed heavily to the tourism business in these areas. However, even these iconic destinations have been severely affected by the recent downturn in the sector, especially along the coastal regions," said Kandie.

She said Kenya cannot afford to lose the market share contributed by Italian tourists.

By developing and marketing some local segments as retiree homes, Kenya will join countries such as Ecuador, Panama, Mexico, Malaysia, Costa Rica, Spain, Malta, Colombia, Portugal and Thailand that are the top ten countries offering modern retiree-targeted amenities.

She acknowledged that the slump in the tourism industry had adversely affected business in the sector.

"We are all aware of the current downturn in the performance of the tourism sector, with the coastal region bearing the brunt that saw the withdrawal of charters to Moi International Airport, Mombasa," she observed.

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