Travel enquiries from China spike after Jack Ma's visit

Asia's richest man was recently in the country. Here's what his visit did for Kenya.

Jack Ma, the Founder and Executive Chairman of Alibaba Group gives a public lecture on entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi on July 20, 2017. PHOTO | ANDREW KILONZI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Chinese travel agents selling Kenya’s tourism products have termed the visit by the billionaire a major boost and endorsement to their campaigns that seek to woo Chinese travellers into Kenya.

This comes after last week's visit by Chinese billionaire Jack Ma whose coming to the country coincided with the launch of mobile online training for travel agents in China rolled out by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) to create top of mind destination awareness and spur interest for travel among the Chinese.

The travel agents has said that the visit by the billionaire had boosted trade between Kenya and China with the traders reporting increased enquiries by travellers around Kenya.

Jack Ma at the Maasai Mara Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala and UNCTAD Secretary-General Dr Mukhisa Kituyi. PHOTO | COURTESY 

“As a result of his visit, I can assure you that our work of marketing Kenya has been made easier, interest to travel to Kenya has suddenly gone up and this is positive feedback,” said Travel Service Bigeyes International co-founder Vivien Zhang, in a statement to newsrooms on Sunday.

Johnson Chen, a general manager of a top ten wholesaler of Africa and Middle East revealed that his company had received several enquires about Kenya that has been in the limelight in connection to Ma’s visit and other Chinese development projects in Kenya including Standard Gauge Railways.

“We anticipate to register an increase of travellers to Kenya in the month of September through to October, Kenya is now among the top sale destination owing to positives associations between the two countries,” said Chen.

The tour operators were speaking over the weekend during promotional marketing campaigns by KTB in China’s cities of Beijing, Shangai and Guangzhou.

At the same time, KTB Chief Executive Officer, Dr Betty Radier announced that they had launched an online mobile training for travel agents selling Kenya’s products to enhance their knowledge on tourism packages the country is offering.

She added that they also plan to produce a destination video specifically for the Chinese market to sustain top of mind destination awareness among the Chinese, saying that China was now listed among the top ten tourist source market the country has potential for further growth, adding that KTB will invest more resources in strategic marketing initiatives aimed at attracting the high-end consumer segments.

“Last year, the market posted 47,860 arrivals up from 29,790 recorded in 2015, indicating a growth of 60.7 per cent. By end of April this year, we received 14,029 visitors from the country compared to 10,407 recorded in the same period last year, an increase of 34.8 per cent,” said Radier.

Ms Radier said that family travel, resulting from the government’s visa waiver for children under the age of 16, is among the factors contributing to the growth of the market.

On his part, Eric Zhu, the general manager for Joy Way, an international travel company, said Kenya will host more family travellers from next year through a kid’s safari package that the company has developed.

“Family travel segment to Kenya is increasingly becoming popular. In partnership with Kenya Airways, we are packaging this product around wildlife and the train services that cater for large groups and corporate clients,” he said.

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