Written by Wangui Maina
Tourists arrive at Maasai Mara20-July-2007: Kenya’s tourism sector is on its way to achieving its ambition as one of the top 10 long haul destinations, according to a new report.
The report which was published earlier in the week by an international destination website, www.lastminute.com, shows bookings to Kenya have increased significantly in the past few months as holiday makers plan for their summer holidays.
This has put Kenya on an equal footing with top long haul destinations such as the Maldives and Thailand.
Lastminute.com is an online travel agent that helps main European travellers book their holidays.
Statistics show that travellers are looking for far-flung destinations to spend their summer with Kenya as one of the best sellers.
The rise in the country’s popularity is attributed to the availability of top of the range holiday packages that the country has recently released in the market as it climbs the leisure business management ladder.
Kuoni’s 2006 long haul report released earlier in the year showed Kenya had moved to the fourth position, ahead of Dubai. Maldives and Thailand maintained the top two positions with Egypt ranked third.
Kenya is expected to maintain its position in 2007 with Egypt dropping to position nine as the US jumps to position three from six.
The report shows that Tanzania is slowly building momentum having been listed among the top 20 long distance destinations.
The country is ranked 18th while China is expected to leap two steps up from position eight in 2006.
Industry insiders say Kenya must boost its marketing campaign to maintain the position and stay ahead of the competition.
Seychelles which has invested heavily in hotels and raised the quality of its services to record a 20 per cent growth in tourist arrivals is among the countries to watch.
The Kuoni report says small destinations have been growing faster as travellers seek to holiday in remote destinations.
Kenya’s tourism sector has been growing steadily over the past four years rising to a revenue peak of Sh56.2 billion last year.
Tourism has been identified as one of the key drivers of the road map to Kenya’s economic take off.
Vision 2030 is also expected to push up the country to the top 10 long distance destinations.
Other key trends emerging in the tourism sector include an increased average stay from 13 days to 14.5 days.
Over half of the clients who book with Kuoni are choosing to take holidays of 15 days and more.
This will mean more business for the hotels in Kenya and increased spend in the destination.
Kenya is also attracting couples who wish to wed. According to the Kuoni report, Kenya emerged as the fifth popular wedding destination and is expected to raise to fourth this year.
Along with weddings the country is also attracting a number of honeymooners.
Aggressive marketing by players in the industry has been attributed to the country’s prominence in the tourism sector.