The number of tourists from West Africa to Kenya is expected to grow by 30 per cent this year following intense marketing by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB).
In recent years, the agency has been promoting tourism in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal markets in a bid to boost arrivals to the country.
Currently, Nigeria is Kenya’s leading tourist market from West Africa. Tourist arrivals from Nigeria to the country increased to 17,962 last year up from 14,065 arrivals in 2015.
Tourist arrivals from Ghana to Kenya, however, registered a 37 per cent growth. The number grew to 8,391 last year, up from 6,116, the previous year. From the Senegal market, 1,108 holidaymakers visited the country last year.
According to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation tourism highlights for 2016, Africa contributed three per cent to the global 2015 arrivals translating to 36 million arrivals, presenting Africa’s fertility for intra-Africa tourism.
KTB chief executive officer Ms Betty Radier said the marketing agency would continue with tourism promotion in West Africa with a view to attracting more arrivals from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal.
Ms Radier added that apart from marketing Kenya in West Africa, KTB has been inviting tour operators and travel writers from the markets to enable them familiarise with the local products.
Tourists from Nigeria have in recent years been visiting Kenyan coastal resort towns of Diani and Mombasa.
In a statement, Ms Radier said KTB in collaboration with United Bank for Africa, at the weekend unveiled ‘Magical Kenya’, a pre-paid card sensitisation campaign to promote travel on the African continent.
The pre-paid card will allow citizens from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal accumulate and transfer points in for use within the travel and tourism industry.
The KTB boss said West Africans who travel for corporate, education, medical and leisure within the continent would benefit from the card.
She added that the card offers exciting value to current and potential travellers in terms of bonus points and discounts.
“There is an estimated market of more than five million card users in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal. That’s why we are leveraging on the UBA foot print to increase visitor numbers,” she added.
National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies chairman Mr Stephen Isokariari said tourists from the West African nation had identified Kenya as their preferred destination after Europe.
“Tour operators and travel agents from Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal are selling Kenya to enable potential holidaymakers visit the East African country for business and leisure,” he said.
“Besides European nations, Nigeria, Ghana and the larger part of West African countries are increasingly shifting their visit preferences within Africa, with travel agencies putting Kenya on the top sale list,” he added.
Tour operators in Senegal have, however, cited tough visa rules as an impediment to the increasing desire by Senegal citizens to visit Kenya. Last year, arrivals from Senegal closed at 1,108.
Apart from tourism promotion in West Africa, KTB has been marketing the country in South Africa Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Ethiopia as parts of efforts to increase arrivals.