Photo taken on Aug. 16, 2017 shows zebras and gnus in the Masai Mara National Reserve, Kenya. (Photo: Xinhua/Lin Hongyu)
A senior Kenyan official said Wednesday Kenya is targeting 100,000 Chinese tourists per year in the medium term, as it embarks on a campaign to sell its safari and beach offerings to the Chinese.
Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, told Xinhua in an exclusive interview that the East African Nation is embarking on a major online and media marketing campaign in China and has already appointed a new representative there.
Kenya is going into digital marketing to promote Kenya in the Chinese market, said Balala, adding Kenya's tourist industry is eager to tap into the Chinese market.
"We had previously a representative of Kenya Tourism Board in China," he said. "We have appointed a new person to represent us in China. The key Chinese market that we want is that we want it to be top three."
Kenya currently receives some 69,000 Chinese tourists annually, according to 2017 government statistics, representing about 6 percent of total tourist arrivals last year.
"We hope we can get at least 100,000 Chinese into Kenya in the next one two years," Balala said, stressing the appeals of the Kenyan market to Chinese tourists, despite it being a long-haul destination, including groups of well-trained people who can speak the Chinese language.
In addition, the visa is online and the weather is good for Chinese visitors, said Balala.
"Everywhere you go in Kenya, there is wildlife. We have Lake Nakuru National Park, Meru National Park, Amboseli National Park, Masaai Mara, Tsavo National Park, Mount Kenya National Park, and Nairobi National Park," he said.
The CS said Kenya has already acted on complaints by Chinese tourists over being coerced to give bribes at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.
"We have heard of those complaints. We have put a new structure at the airport under the leadership of the CEO of the airport. Everything must work." said Balala, stressing that actions have been taken to ensure a seamless non-corruption process, with major improvements already hailed by tourists.
Noting there are travel agencies and hotels run by Chinese in Kenya, the CS also called for more Chinese investments in Kenya's tourism and wildlife sectors, saying Kenya is ready to give incentives, including duty free on facility refurbishment, to investors in the industry.
China has honored its commitment to ending commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of 2017. Balala said the move was a noble thing done to Kenya and Africa.
Balala said Kenya is ready to deepen cooperation with China on tourism and wildlife sector to cement bilateral relations. "The policy of China to work with the rest of the world is a win-win policy, so we want to encourage it and, definitely, we think our tourist industry and wildlife sector will benefit from the visiting of Chinese tourists in Kenya."