Cabinet Secretary (CS), Tourism and Wildlife Dr Alfred Mutua has called for a paradigm shift in Kenya’s tourism marketing model that focusses on a more inclusive approach compared to the current strategy focusing on a limited range of products appealing to a small fraction of the potential clientele.
Addressing senior Ministry officials at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) today, Dr Mutua said there is need for a comprehensive and dynamic approach to expand Kenya’s tourist arrivals expressing concern that the current annual tourist arrivals of 1.4 million was insufficient and fell short of the industry’s potential. He asserted that Kenya should set a target of 5 million tourist arrivals by 2025. In 2021, international arrivals peaked at 870, 465 compared to 2022 where Kenya received 1,483, 752 arrivals, an increase of 70.45%.
“In order to maximise the economic potential of our beautiful nation and create more opportunities for our citizens, we must strive for more ambitious goals’ he said. He added that the tourism sector is Kenya’s gold mine waiting to be fully exploited, and current strategies fall short of harnessing its potential.
The CS underlined the importance of diversifying tourism products on offer, emphasizing that Kenya should not only focus on wildlife and traditional safari tourism, but also showcase its rich cultural heritage, pristine beaches, adventure tourism, and emerging markets such as eco-tourism.
“The world has changed and we need to adapt to these changes. Kenya is not just a wildlife destination. It is a diverse and culturally rich nation with so much to offer. Our marketing strategies should reflect that diversity and inclusivity,” Mutua remarked.
The CS called for closer collaboration between various government agencies, tourism stakeholders and the private sector to implement this strategy effectively. Dr. Mutua also stressed the importance of utilizing modern marketing techniques including digital platforms and social media to reach a wider audience and promote Kenya as a top tourism destination.
The CS told the officials that it is their duty to facilitate stakeholders in the tourism sector and not be seen as the bottlenecks. He said there’s need to innovate new ideas on the best ways of ensuring a steady rise in Kenya’s tourism arrivals. The CS admitted that many challenges including lack of proper stakeholder consultations and engagement, underdeveloped infrastructure, weak or lack of policies and legal frameworks weigh down the ministry’s efforts. Other challenges include low marketing, low investment and financing.
“I am a competent driver and I believe with the right passengers; we will reach our destination safely in a good time. The right human capital is key in achieving our goals, and we will ensure that we are all trained and upskilled to deliver on this critical target of 5 million visitors’, the CS said.
Tourism is a critical economic sector in Kenya, accounting for 10.4% of the GDP and employing 9% of the total workforce in the country.