Tourism players should take advantage of beatification
By Bernard Amaya
| May 4th 2015
The tourism industry has taken a beating following the travel advisories occasioned by insecurity.
The stakeholders have a herculean task of projecting the country as a destination of choice particularly to the international tourists.
The forthcoming beatification event in Nyeri County is a golden moment for promoting the struggling tourism sector.
Since the event organisers have estimated the visitors will run into the thousands, the sector marketers are obliged to give the day the seriousness it deserves.
Lacklustre showing by the event planners will further dent the already tarnished image of our motherland. So the big question is this: Where is the national government in all this?
Success of mega events like this is quite a tall order. The event requires everything to be done to perfection. A last minute rush will spoil things as the planners are likely to fumble.
It is unfair for the State to leave such an international event to the Church. The Church’s financial and technical capacity cannot match the demands of the mega function.
Government support is needed to raise the profile of the event and also boost critical funding. Visitors can only be assured of a great event if they see the national government fully involved in the preparations.
Pronouncements by the Tourism Cabinet secretary (CS) assuring the Christian fraternity of the ministry’s support is not enough. More action must accompany the Cs’s remarks.
Events are increasingly being used as tourist attractions. Think of the carnival in Brazil, boxing in Las Vegas and pilgrimage to Mecca that pull millions of travelers from far and wide.
Given the impact of mega events, Kenya cannot afford to stage poorly organised ones.
Sister Stephani’s life is characterised by extraordinary acts of charity, which have given the country free publicity. We owe her a great event for the rare feat. Hence, failure is not an option.
Devolution has shifted the focus of development from the capital to the counties. In the same vein, tourism activities including marketing have also shifted to counties.
Sector players must re-orient their strategies with a view to putting more emphasis on county-based approaches.
Past strategies where tourism marketing was centralised can no longer work in the new economic order.
Kenya’s tourist product is quite diverse and spreads across all the counties. From mountain peaks, wildlife, sandy beaches to culture and sports, the country has a broad product menu for tourists.
Promoting these products from a central point fails to augment their uniqueness.
Each county should be marketed as a distinct destination for travelers. By so doing, the country will avoid a situation where travel advisories are interpreted to imply the whole country is unsafe for tourists.
The first step will be to map out tourist attractions in all counties. Studies have indicated that Kenya has many visitors’ attractions which are not included in the national inventory.
A recent visit by the Tourism CS to western Kenya revealed many unprotected attractions in the region. Having a functional destination marketing body will help the counties harness their immense tourism potential.
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