Kenya has started a multi-million shilling advertising campaign on the Cable News Network (CNN) to woo back tourist amid the easing of a cash crunch that stalled payment for government services.
The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), the State agency that markets the country’s attractions, has begun to showcase white sandy beaches along the Coast and safari parks on the global channel.
This comes after the Treasury released Sh450 million in October for tourism promotion as part of the Sh7.1 billion market budget that was delayed due to the cash crunch.
The adverts also signal an end to tensions between Kenya and the CNN after the global channel angered Nairobi with its reporting that depicted Kenya as a terror hotbed just days to President Barack Obama’s July visit. “The CNN ads have started rolling,” said a KTB spokesperson.
Kenya had hoped to launch a marketing offensive in Western capitals from August to woo tourists back to its beaches and game parks. This prompted the government to suspend the multimillion-shilling CNN marketing deal with the US-headquartered news giant.
The start of the marketing campaign comes weeks after the US and Britain, key source markets for Kenya’s tourism, downgraded their travel advisories against most parts of the Coast, including Mombasa, Kilifi and Watamu.
Tourism is a vital foreign exchange earner for the country, but a two-year slump forced hotels to shut down and cut jobs, and sent the shilling to lows last seen three and a half years ago.
Besides hotels, tourists support auxiliary sectors like handicraft making, taxi business, fishing and farming, which have also been affected.
The CNN promotion is expected to calm the nerves of hoteliers who blame the government for doing little to revive the sector that employs about 150,000 people.
Kenya’s tourism industry has been on a decline since the Somali-based Al-Shabaab terrorists stepped up their attack on the country in 2013.
Following the attacks, Britain, US, France and Australia last May issued travel warnings to their nationals.
Official data indicates that the sector’s earnings fell 7.3 per cent to Sh87.1 billion in 2014, down from Sh94 billion the previous year.