Kenya woos US travel agents to hold global meeting in Nairobi to boost tourism

Wednesday January 20 2016

Tourists watch a lion walking along a path in

Tourists watch a lion walking along a path in Maasai Mara Game Reserve. Kenya is wooing the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to hold its global meeting in Nairobi in 2017 in a bid to attract more tourists from America. FILE PHOTO | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JAMES KARIUKI
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The Kenyan government and tourism stakeholders have launched a massive campaign to lure the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) to hold its global meeting in Nairobi in 2017.

ASTA’s President Zane Kerby expressed optimism saying Kenya as the ‘home’ of America’s President was an attractive destination to sell to Americans.

“The agencies usually guide American tourists on where to go and that is why we want them to come here and sample for themselves what Kenya has to offer and proceed to sell the same to their customers.

“The media has painted a gloomy picture of Kenya and it is upon us (ASTA) to change this perception by holding our global meet here where our 2,000 members will fund their individual visits and create networks with local travel agents and hotels,” he said.

The ASTA president spoke after he led ASTA officials from the United States and Kenya in an early morning meeting with Tourism Minister Najib Balala where they agreed to lay out a comprehensive strategy to sell Kenya’s wildlife, cities and geographical features as tourist attractions to Americans.

During a cocktail at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, local hoteliers and tour agents expressed optimism about the ongoing efforts, saying Kenyans must show patriotism by frequenting wildlife sanctuaries and savouring local delicacies at local hotels.

FORM UNITED FRONT

ASTA’s Kenya Secretary Caroline Njoroge called on Kenyans and especially stakeholders in the industry to form a united front with the media in luring tourists to visit Kenya.

Nairobi had also seen outstanding development in high-class hospitality facilities that have hosted notable global meetings such as the WTO.

ASTA officials are on a week-long tour to sample and inspect hospitality facilities within Nairobi before conducting a tour of the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Mr Some welcomed the partnership, saying the North America Tourism Campaign would help restore Kenya’s standing as a favourite tourist destination.

Ms Cheats said that marketing Kenya online would best be complemented by personal networks between local agents, hotels and airlines with American agents.

“Americans want a facility that accepts credit cards, all communication is done in English and booking responses are swiftly done within 24 hours and all these conditions are adequately met by Kenyan facilities,” she said.

Mr Kerby expressed optimism that there would be direct Kenya-US flights soon, saying that would help spur traffic between the two countries.

He said all discussions and measures were being put in place by civil aviation authorities to allow the flights to start by mid-2016.