Skydiving marvel boosts Kwale tourism, puts it on world map

Wednesday January 3 2018

Diani skydiving

Tourists stroll along the white sandy beach of Diani in Kwale County on January 2, 2018. Hotels in the region have recorded an impressive number of tourists over the December holidays following a month-long Diani Beach Festival that attracted close to 500 skydivers from 37 countries. PHOTO | WACHIRA MWANGI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By MATHIAS RINGA
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Diani seaside town in Kwale County was Tuesday put on the world map by a group of 34 local and international divers who leaped out of the sky at 12,000 feet, to the joy of spectators.

Among the skydivers was Kenya Tourism Board chairman Jimi Kariuki, who was sky diving for the first time in Diani.

Mr Kariuki took part in the adrenaline-charged sport as part of efforts by the agency to promote Diani, which despite boasting an award-winning beach is yet to recover from a tourism slump.

Being a first-time skydiver, the KTB boss was supported by an instructor.

500 SKYDIVERS

For the better part of last month, the county was in the limelight as 500 international skydivers from 37 countries took part in the Diani Beach Festival.

The skydivers included professionals and world champions from the United Kingdom, US, Germany, Spain, Russia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt, France, Qatar, Australia, China, Japan, Italy, South Africa, Hong Kong and Denmark.

The festival began on December 9, 2017 and ended on New Year’s Day.

According to the organisers, the festival was aimed at promoting Diani to overseas markets.

Activities such as skydiving, kite surfing, cycling, quad biking, deep sea fishing, fly boarding, scuba diving and yoga were in plenty.

VERY EXCITED

In an interview with Nation at Diani beach, Mr Kariuki said he was very excited to have skydived for the first time.

“I enjoyed every minute of it. Imagine you are at 12,000ft in the sky and you are exposed to the turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean. The scenery of the South Coast is excellent. It was a great opportunity to promote this stunning beach holiday destination and woo more holidaymakers from across the globe,” he said.

He advised Kenyans to undertake skydiving instructor courses because, at the moment, the majority of instructors are foreigners.

Mr Kariuki, who is also the marketing director of Sarova Hotels, Game Lodges and Resorts, said KTB would market Diani in overseas markets.

He noted that although Diani beach was in 2017 voted as the leading beach destination for the fourth year running by World Travel Awards, the resort had recorded low tourism numbers.

He said that in 2015, KTB held the Magical Kenya Travel Expo for the first time as part of efforts to revive tourism at the South Coast.

UPLIFT INDUSTRY

The KTB, he added, would work hand in hand with tourism players in Kwale County to uplift the industry.

He thanked organisers of Diani Beach Festival for hosting over 500 international skydivers.

“In December, hotels in Diani were packed to capacity owing to the festival. Also, many local and international tourists came to the South Coast for holidays,” he said.

In 2018, KTB will aggressively market Kenya in both traditional and emerging markets.

“The key markets targeted are UK, US, Germany, France, Italy and Eastern Europe, as well as China, India, Middle East and Africa,” he added.

He said the agency was carrying out digital marketing with the support of US travel firm TripAdvisor and Google.

Among the local tourists who skydived were pilots Angela Waihumbu and Derrick Onyancho, from Nairobi, and Andrew Muree, a marketer from Nairobi.