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Players hail govt efforts to woo Chinese tourists

Tourism secretary Najib Balala. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Diani Reef Beach and Resort managing director Bobby Kamani (right) chats with Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala during a Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers meeting in Mombasa. Looking on is KICC chief executive Nana Gecaga. PHOTO | LUCAS BARASA | NMG 

Tourism players have hailed the government’s efforts to market the country as the best destination in China and eastern Europe as the high season nears.

At the same time, Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala says the major investment in infrastructure development at the Coast including the recently launched phase one of Dongo Kundu bypass would boost tourism.

Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa managing director Bobby Kamani said the Chinese market is lucrative for the country.

He said the recently launched video by Kenya Tourism Board that promotes Chinese tourism “along with hard support for national carrier Kenya Airways #ticker:KQ into the country is a great counter response to China Southern Airline’s recent plan to woo Kenyan tourists into China.”

“KTB has really stepped up its efforts in promoting tourism into the country. They have targeted marketing for different regions,” Mr Kamani said.

He added: “Targeted marketing along with the Ministry of Tourism’s intelligent digital marketing strategy to woo travellers to Kenya is a sure-fire way to boost tourism earnings from non-conventional markets such as Eastern Europe and China.”

Private players

Mr Kamani said the ministry’s recently launched Tourism blueprint 2030 is a game changer and that the government needs to be supported for its efforts to transform the industry.

“Private players need to play a pivotal role in the implementation of the blueprint,” Mr Kamani said.

He said most tourism players were “improving and refreshing” their products to remain competitive and attractive as the July high season starts.

He added that the Tourism Regulatory Authority’s recent star classification of hotels was a “wake up call for numerous hoteliers.”

Tourism players regard China market of the future.

Speaking during Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers meeting in Mombasa, Mr Balala said the Mombasa-Malindi road is to be expanded to a dual carriage and that clearing of structures on the road reserve had been done.

“This will make travellers take only an hour from Mombasa to Malindi,” Mr Balala said.

The CS said the Mombasa-Lunga Lunga road will also be expanded and a bridge erected to connect North Coast and South Coast.

“Users of the Standard Gauge Railway will be able to connect directly to the South Coast through the bridge,” he said.

Avoid propaganda

Urging hoteliers to avoid propaganda that the government had sidelined the Coast in development, Mr Balala said more than Sh100 billion had been injected into infrastructure.

“The Dongo Kundu bypass that is to cost more than Sh30 billion is like nowhere in Kenya or Africa. What we should be asking is how are tourism players positioning themselves to benefit from huge investments?” Mr Balala posed.

Mr Balala said cumbersome processes had delayed the expansion of Malindi International Airport and Ukunda Airstrip.

The ministries of Transport and that of land, he said, were handling compensation of people to be displaced to allow expansion of the Malindi airport.

He said road to Ukunda Airstrip had been improved and that a school located there is to be moved.

He said the government was committed to opening the country for tourism by easing accessibility.

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