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Kenya hosts celebrities in bid to tap tourism potential

Arts and Culture
 The African American team of travel advisors and influencers including American actor Gbenga Akinnagbe at a reception. They experienced culture and heritage during their visit to Kenya. [Courtesy KTB]

Kenya is looking to tap into the growing pool of African American travellers seeking authentic African experiences.  

According to Kenya Tourism Board acting chief executive officer John Chirchir, the country will package her culture, heritage, and conservation offerings to attract the large market segment of Americans with African roots.

Chrichir revealed the strategy during a dinner hosted to welcome a group of African American influencers including American-Nigerian actor Gbenga Akinnagbe, music mogul and wellness warrior Angelique Miles, American television personality and businesswoman Bevy Smith and Global Communications Executive Iesha Reed. 

The group has been in the country for a one-week familiarization trip.

“The African American segment is of great importance to Kenya as a destination. This demographic forms about 13 per cent of the American population which is currently our top source market for tourism. We aim to engage their interest and inspire them to establish a connection not just with their African heritage but also with the global conservation movement Kenya is renowned for,” he said. 

Chirchir said the board is aligning its strategy to this segment yearning to reconnect with their African roots through immersive and enriching cultural experiences, adventure, and engaging conservation efforts, adding that Kenya presents an attractive facet for African American travellers seeking connections with the continent’s rich bio-diverse heritage.

“It’s an honour to welcome this esteemed group of influential figures to our destination. We’re looking forward to not just showcasing Kenya’s captivating scenic beauty but also introducing them to the warmth and hospitality of our people, and the vibrancy of Nairobi which was recently voted best city to visit in 2024 by Lonely Planet. We hope that it inspires a robust understanding and love for our country, encouraging others to come and explore.” 

Chirchir emphasized the significance of leveraging on influential personalities to change perceptions about Kenya and, more crucially, reshape the narrative about Africa that circulates in foreign media.  

“Many people have preconceived notions about Kenya and the African continent based on what they see in film and movies, most of which do not depict the full picture. The presence of these influencers offers a unique opportunity to counter these stereotypes and present a much richer, diverse image of our great country.” 

According to a 2018 study by U.S-based market research firm, Mandala Research, African American travel represents a $63 billion opportunity with “cultural” travellers of this demographic being the highest spenders, with an average per trip spend of $2,078 versus $1,345 for all African American travellers.  

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