Kenya will from September be marketed as a tourist destination by the Cable News Network (CNN).
Tourism minister Najib Balala said the Government has signed a marketing contract with the American TV station, but did not disclose the value.
He, however, said he had drafted a Cabinet paper to request Sh1 billion for marketing the country.
“The move is aimed at boosting the country’s image as a tourism destination because we are losing business to Zanzibar and Mauritius,” he said.
Speaking when he opened the upgraded Bombolulu Workshop and Cultural Centre at the weekend, the minister said Kenya was hardly felt in the market since it had not invested in marketing.
“South Africa is spending 4.2 billion ($64 million) and Thailand 17.1 billion ($260 million) in tourism marketing, ” he said.
Balala said most countries with tourism attractions were investing in safari circuits and less in beach tourism. He proposed that Kenya does direct consumer marketing in order to create a positive image abroad.
He said he would table a tourism Bill in Parliament for the establishment of a tourism board in every region.
Meanwhile, American tourists and Coast tourism stakeholders have welcomed the “open skies” agreement with US, saying it will attract foreign investment.
Mr Bret Van Leeuwen, the leader of an American charity group, said American tourists were eager to visit Kenya and see wildlife.
“Tourists avoid visiting Kenya due to long hour flight and delays occasioned by change in flights,’’ Leeuwen said. The deal paves way for direct flights between Nairobi and New York. And at least 10 new charter flights will enter the country this holiday season.
The flights are expected to land at Moi International Airport Mombasa starting December 23.