CHANGING TRAVEL HABITS IN AFRICA SET TO BENEFIT KENYA
(Posted 03rd April 2017)
Kenya is projected to record and increase of over 30% in tourist arrivals from Nigeria and Ghana towards the end of the year as travelers shift their travel plans towards more exploring the African continent.
According to the UNWTO tourism highlights for 2016, Africa contributed 3% to the global 2015 arrivals translating to 36 million arrivals, presenting Africa’s fertility for intra-Africa tourism
National Association of Nigeria Travel Agencies (NATA) Chairman Stephen Isokariari says travel trade has identified Kenya as priority destination visitors prefer besides Europe and other destinations.
‘Besides European Nations, Nigeria, Ghana and the larger part of West African countries are increasingly shifting their visit preference within Africa, with travel agencies putting Kenya on the top sale list‘ says Isokariari.
He made the remarks in Abuja over the weekend at the ongoing magical Kenya pre-paid card sensitization campaign unveiled by Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) and West Africa’s United Bank for Africa (UBA) to promote travel within the continent.
The pre-paid card targeting three West African countries of Ghana, Nigeria and Senegal will allow citizens to accumulate and transfer points in the card for use within the hospitality and travel industry.
‘Diversity of tourism product offering, accessibility andvarious incentives are part of the reasons travel agencies are putting Kenya on top sale list‘ said the NATA chairman.
The loyalty program on the card and merchant affiliation will be managed by eGiftAfrica and the Go Places company.
KTB Chief Executive Officer Dr. Betty Radier in a statement said the West African nationals who travel for corporate, education, medical as well as leisure purposes within Africa will greatly benefit from the card.
She said the card was a great incentive as it avails exciting value adds to current and potential travelers in terms of bonus points and discounts. ‘There is an estimated market of over 5 Million card users in Nigeria, Ghana and Senegal, the reason we are leveraging UBA foot print‘ pointed out Radier.
Nigeria is Kenya’s top tourist source market in West Africa. It posted 17,962 arrivals last year up from 14,065 in 2015, translating to a growth of 27.7%.
Ghana on the other hand recorded a 37.2% growth of 8,391 visitors up from 6,116 recorded in 2015.
Tour operators in Senegal have however cited referral visa regime as an impediment to the increasing desire by Senegal citizens to travel to Kenya. Last year arrivals from Senegal closed at 1,108.
Senegal Kenya airways country Manager Martin Juma disclosed that the National carrier has received numerous concerns from travel agents and individual Senegalese citizens on referral visa application being a major deterrence for their travel to Kenya.
Local tourism stakeholders from Kenya used the opportunity to recommend that their country adopts a more user friendly Visa regime for travelers from Africa, modelled along what Rwanda does, i.e. granting Visa on arrival to citizens from the African Union member countries.
‘Medium term must we aim to however copy the Seychelles model. That country’s tourism industry has grown unbelievably over the past years and besides their marketing constantly in overdrive has their NO VISA NEEDED policy opened the doors to all sorts of countries. If only we could move along those lines drawn successfully by Rwanda and do away with those so called referred Visa requirements which keep out so many potential visitors. Rwanda last year again had a big boost in arrival numbers and revenues and their MICE industry is thriving. When they host big African conferences, they advertise the fact that every AU citizen gets their Visa at the airport. I wonder why we have not taken a leaf from this and given a boost to our own MICE industry, our own tourism industry? We have a very challenging year ahead of us with the Laikipia situation and the elections, let us not forget that. Every bit of doing away with red tape when visiting Kenya will help!‘ commented a regular source from Nairobi overnight.
Also credited for the growth in intra Africa travel is the so called ‘Team Africa‘ a brainchild of among others Nigeria’s Ikechi Uko, aimed at promoting travel from Africa to Africa, which has made a signifianct impact through the lobbying of the group’s founder members on their national governments and continental bodies to in particular loosen the Visa strings and have AU member countries more freely welcome their African brothers and sisters to their shores.