Kenya Looks East For 1 Million Chinese Tourists As Westerns Exit

Kenya Looks East For 1 Million Chinese Tourists As Westerns Exit

Increase travel advisory by western countries over raising security threat in Kenya has seen foreign tourists shun the East African nation in favour of its neighbour Tanzania and hurting one of the largest hard currency earner.

But the Kenyan government says it will now target to bring in at least one million Chinese tourists every year as it seeks to diversify its source market from predominantly traditional European tourists.

Capital FM quoted Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie saying the push to increase tourist from the emerging Asian giant was only meant to add to Kenya’s tourist arrivals and not substitute visits from the traditional source markets of the West.

“We have a plan at the ministry, one of which is to diversify our source market but that does not mean that we ignore our traditional market. I do not think that will lead to a strained relationship with the Western world because we will still maintain our traditional source markets although we have gotten negative travel advisories from some,” Kandie said.

Recent travel advisories by the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and France, that led to hundreds of British tourists evacuated from Kenya’s coast last week on concern of terror threats to foreign nationals is expected to hurt Kenya’s tourism earnings this year.

“It will have a significant impact on our sector, luckily for us this was a low season and it should not affect bookings for the high season,” Kandie said while calling on the western countries to review their travel advisories.

Tourist arrivals in Kenya fell 15.8 percent to 1.49 million last year as security worries kept visitors away. The sector is one of Kenya’s biggest foreign exchange earners, employing 150,000 people, according to a Reuters report.

Kandie said with Chinese support in the tourism sector, trade promotions and investments will be highly improved to attract more investors and open markets from the East.

“The Chinese government is very much interested in supporting Kenya’s tourism sector, so as we will build on that MoU, we will focus on tourism promotion and development and trade promotion as well so that together they can increase trade between the two countries,” she said.