Kenya plans to cut marketing spending in three traditional tourism source markets to free advertising budget in favour of five new markets like China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi and South Korea that it says have high potential for visitors and revenues.
The Tourism and Wildlife ministry said it would cut campaigns in markets including Italy, Switzerland and Japan due to the lower share captured in previous efforts and expected slower annual growth equivalent to one percent.
The expenditure will now be directed to five markets China, the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
“Kenya may start by launching tailored marketing campaigns for the 1-2 countries with the highest potential within each category: US, UK, China, UAE and Saudi Arabia,” said the ministry in a new strategy paper.
“Given limited marketing spend, prioritising marketing budgets is critical to successful outreach. Other source markets should still be engaged but marketing focus should be in prioritised countries.’’
Tourism promotion and marketing activities have been allocated Sh1.06 billion in the financial year beginning June, 18.3 percent up from Sh897.89 million in the supplementary budget for the current financial year.
But it will not cut budgets for other traditional markets such as the US and UK, which still have high potential based on numbers and revenues of up to 310,000 and $750 million (Sh87.7 billion) by 2030.
Kenya carries out promotion initiatives including roadshows and sponsoring invited tour agents, advertisements in foreign media to attract visitors for leisure and meetings, incentives conferencing and events.
Other investments include regulation and policy to open-air routes and increasing visa openness.
The markets are pinned on due to existing relations with Kenya making it easy for penetration, and the potential to pull in a larger number of visitors compared to the East African region. Other markets that Kenya will be eyeing in the medium term include Canada, Germany, France, India and South Korea.
The ministry could also reduce campaigns in the regional market citing higher spending by tourists on flight connectivity and visa, leading to insufficient returns.
Tourism was among the worst-hit sectors by the pandemic following the closure of borders and cancellation of flights, as economies globally moved to control the pandemic.
It was heavily dependent on the forward bookings from international travellers pre-pandemic period, with the clientele taking more than half of the accommodation services.
It will also now be largely targeting the domestic market which buoyed the industry during the pandemic with high visits to coastal hotels, parks and sports events.
The domestic market potential is projected to have 12 million people able to enjoy and spend on local destinations by 2030, up from 6.6 million in 2019.
The plan is part of a strategy for the tourism industry for five years to 2025 developed by a team composed of tour operators, parastatals, conservancy leads and funders, led by CS Najib Balala.
Tourism spending is expected to recover to 2019 levels in 2024 when $1.97 billion (Sh229.4 billion) was recorded as total leisure travel spending from the top 40 source markets globally.
About $1.38 billion (Sh160.7 billion) is expected to be spent this year.