The Kenya Tourism Ministry has unveiled plans to deliver a refreshed marketing strategy that aims to reposition Kenya as a premium experiential destination in Africa. This will take place after the completion of two major studies done by two international consultants – one of which successfully developed the South African tourism strategy.

With the current marketing strategy being touted as ‘failing the test of relevance for the needs of the tourism sector’, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, has said that the government is changing the strategy altogether, alongside a raft of changes that will be implemented through a new strategy geared at transforming the industry. Some of the recommendations include:

A complete revamp of the marketing strategy done by the Kenya Tourism Board, and development of country infrastructure.

This includes road networks and airports, to facilitate easy access to destinations. “People do not care about coming to beautiful rooms with air-conditioning; it’s (about the) experience right from arrival at the airport until they depart – every experience should stick with what the clients want,” said Balala. This feeds directly into the burgeoning global trend of the ‘experience economy’, where stakeholders and service providers are shifting delivery focus to customer experience.

Product development to meet the demands of the modern-day tourist.

This includes a stronger focus on Kenya’s beach products, as opposed to its safari products, which already have a very strong presence with global tourists. Beaches were the areas to feed Tsavo National Park, said Balala, adding that they had identified five zones in the coast to begin developing the beach tourism product.

Dominic Grammaticus, Managing Director of Governors Camp Collection, said: "Kenya was the birthplace of the ‘safari’, and indeed the word safari itself means 'journey' in Swahili. So Kenya has always been synonymous with the best traditions of the under-canvas safari. We welcome the new focus that the KTB is bringing to some of Kenya's other great assets for the traveller – white sand beaches comparable with the best in the world. If you are looking for diverse experiences, everything from snow-capped mountains to arid semi-deserts or lush forests, Kenya really does have it all for the discerning traveller, and it’s time that message was out there."  

The Ministry has also done three additional complementary studies, one of them being the growth in air travel. This study revealed a 10% growth in international arrivals year-on-year from 2016 to 2017 – 1.5m travellers. Kenya is one of the 23 countries that have signed the Single African Air Transport Market (SAATM) agreement, which is intended to drive down airfares by allowing the airlines of signatory countries to freely access each other’s airports.

Balala has challenged stakeholders to look at, and think about, tourism innovatively. “It is no longer possible for travel and tourism providers or even destinations to continue thinking that it’s business as usual. Innovation and change, and the ability to quickly respond to emerging issues, are critical success factors for the industry today,” he said. Outlining initiatives embarked upon over the last three years to catalyse the revival of the industry, Balala has asked the private sector to partner with government in driving Kenya tourism by investing in the industry. “Our first priority must be to fix and refresh our tourism product and reinvigorate our engagements with key source markets in order to attract new visitors. We are targeting more than four million visitors by 2020, and I hope that this new strategy will enable us to achieve this target.”