Monday, 30 July 2012

Kenya embarks on sports to promote tourism

Tourists watch Giraffes at the AFEW (African Fund for Endangered Wildlife) Giraffe Centre, Nairobi, Capital of Kenya, June 8, 2012.  (Xinhua/Daniel Namale)

By Njoroge Kaburo
July 30 (Xinhua) -- Kenya's tourism marketing body has embarked on sports to promote its tourism industry which has continued to suffer from fears of terror attacks as the number of visitors to the East African nation dwindles.

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) said it will use this year's Maralal camel derby next month to rollout its aggressive marketing and publicity campaigns to woo tourists to the northern part of the east African nation. "This event is meant to drive sports enthusiasts to the northern part of the country which apart from this event has the unexplored tourism attractions which we are aggressively marketing in line with our diversification strategy," KTB MD Muriithi Ndegwa said in a statement issued in Nairobi. The event dubbed Magical Kenya Samburu Maralal camel derby slated for Aug. 24-26 will draw participation from several countries.

Ndegwa said the KTB has partnered with the community with a view to boosting the profile of the sporting event.Ndegwa said the annual event has gained international recognition over years and disclosed that it has registered participants from 16 different countries in the past years.Since the beginning of the year, the number of tourists arriving in Kenya through its 2 main international airports has been on the decline as terrorists scale up attacks mainly in Nairobi and Mombasa - a favorite tourist destination.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) in its latest report on economic indicators shows that the tourism sector continues to take a beating. The number of tourists who arrived in the East African nation in May fell by 4.3 percent from the previous period."The number of tourists arriving through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) and Moi International Airport (MIA) fell by 4.3 per cent from 79,544 persons recorded in April to 76, 117 persons in May," said the report dated June published last week. In April, tourist arrivals through JKIA and MIA had dropped by 16.8 percent from previous period. In March, the number stood at 95,633 before dropping to 79,544 in April.

In January, 111,574 tourists visited Kenya through the two main airports. The number fell to 105,041 in February and has been on the decline since then. But Ndegwa said among Kenya's tourism products, sporting activities such as athletics, rugby golf, among others have propelled the country as a sports tourism destination and expressed his optimism that initiatives such as the magical Kenya Maralal camel derby will go a long way in boosting Kenya's image as a sporting destination."We are also encouraging tour operators to draw up itineraries that will provide the participants with the opportunity to sample other unexploited attractions that are abundant within the northern tourism circuit," he added. He said KTB is focusing on marketing strategies such as on-line, print media, electronic media and other social interactive platforms to raise the profile of the annual event that has also been enriched with other cultural attractions including a traditional marriage, cuisine, cultural dances, songs and fashion show.

The larger district has several tourism products including wildlife, culture, and scenery among other products.  Road network and security has been improved in the region.   Last year, the annual showcase attracted participants from some seven countries from across the globe which included U.S., Britain, Germany, Netherlands, India, Ghana, France and several participants across the country. (Xinhua)

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