Japan delegates attending the sixth Tokyo International Conference on Africa Development (TICAD VI) on Saturday continued to stream to the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) desk at the Kenya Hub seeking to know more on what the country had on offer in tourism.
The Board’s Chairman Jimi Kariuki welcomed the interest shown by the Japanese saying there were plans to transform Japan from a developing source of tourists into a strategic market.
Kariuki said in 2015 the tourism sector recorded 40 per cent increase in tourist arrivals from Japan making it the third best tourist source in Asia after China and India.
He said the excitement by the Japanese comes a time when the tourism sector is showing signs of recovery as tourism returns are projected to grow by 15 percent in the first half of 2016/2017 financial year compared to 2015/2016 financial year.
The tourism sector has been experiencing low returns in the past few years due to decreased tourist numbers occasioned by travel advisories issued due to insecurity concerns.
In an interview Saturday at the KICC’s COMESA grounds, where KTB desk is located within the Kenya Hub, Kariuki said the Board was planning to hold road shows in Japan, China, India and Thailand to increase the tourist numbers form the Asian countries to compliment the traditional (core) market of Europe and America.
He said the Board had set aside 60 percent of its budget to market strategic sources of tourists with major emphasis being given to India and China as well as Japan.
“The Board is identifying newer markets so that when we have challenges in old traditional markets we can lean on new markets. We have depended on old markets for too long,” said Kariuki.
Kariuki said the main challenge to increasing the tourist numbers from Japan was lack of direct flight connection to Kenya.
In March 2016, President Kenyatta while addressing a Kenya-Japan Business Forum in Tokyo underscored the need to have direct flights between Nairobi and Tokyo to boost bilateral trade and tourism as way of bringing the balance of trade which in favour of Japan.
The Board Chairman said a way of further marketing Kenya as the preferred tourist destination the Board was organizing the sixth Magical Kenya Tourism Expo which will be held between 12 and 14 October, 2016. The Expo whose objective is to market Kenya’s tourism sector will attract participants from more than 40 countries.
The two-day TICAD VI Summit was officially opened Saturday by President Uhuru Kenyatta. The opening session was attended by Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and several Heads of State and government.
Source: Kenya News Agency.