18 November 2008

Kenyans contemplating Obama route for tourism

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After Barack Obama became president-elect in America earlier this month, Kenyans have been celebrating in the hope that his Kenyan heritage would boost tourism for the East African nation.

According to the Daily Nation, Kenyans are expecting a 10-15 per cent increase in the number of American tourists to the country because of the presidential elections.

Tourism Minister Najib Balala also predicts the results of the election would encourage European and British residents to visit the country, and is considering creating an Obama heritage trail for all tourists to Kenya.

"We are now contemplating opening the Obama route that will start from Nairobi through the Great Rift Valley and Lake Victoria leading to Kogelo village, thus giving clients the chance to visit Obama’s father's birthplace," Balala told reporters.

The Kenya Tourist Board (KTB) also said it would be capitalising on the president-elect's Kenyan heritage, who was born to a white American mother and a Kenyan father from Kogelo, a small rural village in western Kenya. 

"We'll be looking at our strategy for marketing so that we give greater attention to the U.S. market to respond to the greater attention and interest being shown," Jake Grieves-Cook, chair of the KTB, told Reuters.

"It has very positive implications for tourism.  Kenya now is in the spotlight internationally.  We are bound to see an increased interest in Kenya," he added.

The Minister also commented that the "Obama effect" is not the only factor securing the growth of Kenyan tourism next year; the government has ensured a strong marketing strategy is in action, starting with establishing new and reinforcing old relationships at the World Travel Market in London last week.  Here, 46 tour operators, government agencies and travel industry members, who collectively won the Best Stand Award, represented Kenya.  Kenya is also funding a marketing campaign in Europe, which involves the media, outdoor and Internet advertising, and direct mail to targeted markets.

Nationals from the USA and the European Union need to apply for a 90-day temporary Kenyan visa to visit the country.  Although visitors from these countries can buy temporary visas at the port of entry to Kenya, it is recommended to applying before travelling to the country to avoid the risk of being denied a visa, as some applications can be rejected at customs.


The Worldwide Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in Kenya visa and immigration services.

Article by Jessica Bird, Worldwide Visa Bureau.


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