Kenya eyes more Chinese tourists after Jack Ma’s visit

Kenya’s tourism marketers on Sunday promised to bring more Chinese tourists to the East African nation after a visit by Chinese business magnate Jack Ma.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said travel agents have termed the visit by the billionaire a major boost and endorsement to their campaigns – that seek to woo Chinese travelers into Kenya.

KTB Chief Executive Officer Betty Radier said in a statement issued in Nairobi that China now listed among the top 10 tourist source market the country has potential for further growth.

Radier noted that KTB will invest more resources in strategic marketing initiatives aimed at attracting the high-end consumer segments.

“By end of April this year, we received 14,029 visitors from the country compared to 10,407 recorded in the same period last year, an increase of 34.8 percent,” said Radier.

Last year, the market posted 47,860 arrivals up from 29,790 recorded in 2015, indicating a growth of 60.7 percent, she said.

Radier said family travel, resulting from the government’s visa waiver for children under the age of 16, is among the factors contributing to the growth of the market.

Chinese billionaire Jack’s visit coincided with the launch of mobile online training for travel agents in China rolled out by KTB to create top of mind destination awareness and spur interest for travel among the Chinese.

“As a result of his visit, I can assure you that our work of marketing Kenya has been made easier, interest to travel to Kenya has suddenly gone up and this is positive feedback,” said Travel Service Bigeyes International co-founder Vivien Zhang.

A top 10 wholesaler of Africa and Middle East General Manager Johnson Chen disclosed that his company has received several inquires about Kenya that has been in the limelight in connection to Jack’s visit and other China’s development projects in Kenya, including Standard Gauge Railways.

“We anticipate to register an increase of travelers to Kenya in the month of September through to October, Kenya is now among the top sale destination owing to positives associations between the two countries,” said Chen.

The tour operators were speaking over the weekend during promotional marketing campaigns by KTB in China’s cities of¬†Beijing, Shangai and¬†Guangzhou.

KTB launched online mobile training for travel agents selling Kenya’s products to enhance their knowledge on tourism packages the country is offering.

The marketing body has also planned to produce a destination video specifically for the Chinese market to sustain top of mind destination awareness among the Chinese.

The General Manager for Joy Way, an international travel company Eric Zhu said Kenya will host more family travelers from next year through a kid’s safari package that the company has developed.

“Family travel segment to Kenya is increasingly becoming popular. In partnership with Kenya Airways, we are packaging this product around wildlife and the train services that cater for large groups and corporate clients,” he said.

During his visit to Kenya, the Chinese business mogul known and respected globally for his innovative business solutions, said he saw a great future in Africa and urged both political and business leaders in the continent to embrace innovation.

Insisting the growth of technology in this era was the third phase of a global business development cycle, Jack said the new phase of technology development, driven by intelligence systems, would require the development of brains and innovations where innovation would replace human beings.

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