Kenya plans to cut funding for tourism marketing in Japan and Italy


Kenya plans to cut funding for tourism marketing in Japan and Italy

Tourism CS Najib Balala. FILE PHOTO | NMG

Kenya plans to cut marketing spend in three traditional tourism source markets to free up advertising budgets in favor of five new markets such as China, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi and South Korea, which have high visitor and revenue potential.

The Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife said it will cut campaigns in markets like Italy, Switzerland and Japan due to the lower proportion captured in previous efforts and expects slower annual growth of 1 percent.

Spending now goes to the five markets of China, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

“Kenya could start launching tailored marketing campaigns for the 1-2 countries with the highest potential in each category: US, UK, China, UAE and Saudi Arabia,” the ministry said in a new strategy paper.

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“With limited marketing spend, prioritizing marketing budgets is critical to successful public relations. Other source markets should continue to be included, but the marketing focus should be on prioritized countries.”

Tourism promotion and marketing activities were allocated Sh1.06 billion in the fiscal year ended June, up 18.3 percent from Sh897.89 million in the supplementary budget for the current fiscal year.

But it won’t cut budgets for other traditional markets like the US and UK, which still have high potential based on numbers and revenues of up to US$310,000 and US$750 million (Shh87.7 billion) by 2030.

Kenya carries out promotional initiatives including road shows and sponsorship of invited tour operators, advertisements in foreign media to attract visitors for leisure and meetings, incentive conferences and events.

Other investments include regulation and policy for open-air circuits and increasing visa openness.

The markets are firmly entrenched due to existing ties with Kenya, which facilitates penetration, and the potential to attract a larger number of visitors compared to the East African region. Other markets Kenya is eyeing in the medium term are Canada, Germany, France, India and South Korea.

The ministry could also scale back campaigns in the regional market, citing higher spending by tourists on flights and visas, leading to insufficient returns.

Tourism has been among the hardest-hit sectors by the pandemic after borders were closed and flights canceled as economies around the world got the pandemic under control.

It was heavily dependent on the advance bookings of international travelers in the pre-pandemic period, with clientele consuming more than half of the accommodation services.

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It will now also largely target the domestic market, which has fueled the industry with many visits to seaside hotels, parks and sporting events during the pandemic.

The domestic market potential is expected to have 12 million people enjoying and spending money in local destinations by 2030, up from 6.6 million in 2019.

The plan is part of a five-year tourism industry strategy to 2025 developed by a team of tour operators, parastatal organizations, conservation leaders and funders led by CS Najib Balala.

Tourism spending is expected to recover in 2024 to 2019 levels, when USD 1.97 billion (Shh 229.4 billion) was recorded as total spending on leisure travel from the world’s top 40 source markets.

About USD 1.38 billion (Shh 160.7 billion) is expected to be spent this year.

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