Since its establishment three years ago, Tembea Kenya (Tour Kenya) has promoted tourism among thousands of Kenyans through subsidized rates to tourist destinations across the country.
Following security threats posed by the Al-Shabaab, the tourism sector has been suffering for over five years now. Western countries further crippled the sector when they issued travel bans as a result of security fears.
Kenya had to rise above its dependence on foreign tourists to grow the industry, hence the introduction of Tembea Kenya to create awareness and promote domestic tourism in the country whose tourism earnings had fallen by about 11% between 2011-2014. This is according to Kenya National Bureau of Statistics’ Facts and Figures 2015.
The Kenyan Tourism Board campaign, Tembea Kenya, has brought positive impact to the sector that has faced many challenges and Kenyans are touring the country more, thanks to the promotion. The campaign has widely circulated through online platforms such as the hashtag #TembeaKenya where Kenyans have use it to post their vacation destination photos.
In one of its promotion, Tembea Kenya involved a local celebrated Radio Host, Maina Kageni, to pool local tourists together in road trips that saw hundreds of people follow the entourage to selected parts in Kenya. The promotion took place weeks prior to the Christmas Holiday.
“Whether you want to take a family holiday, a weekend away, have a romantic getaway or indeed, a honeymoon, there are plenty of destination options to pick from,” reads a tagline on Tembea Kenya website.
The sector is set to grow even faster after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Najib Balala as Tourism Cabinet Secretary(CS). After his appointment late last year, Mr Balala announced new set of incentives in the effort to revive the tourism sector which he has led before as Tourism Minister. At the time, tourism was fairly doing well as the country’s top foreign exchange earner.
With an aim to promote tourism particularly in the Kenyan coastal region, Mr Balala stated that all chartered planes with passengers terminating at Malindi Airport and Moi International Airport, Mombasa, would be exempted from landing fees for 30 months beginning 1st January 2016.
Though year by year figures show that the sector has been going on a downward trail, the month by month statistics show a positive track- the figures have gone up by 23% since October 2014. These figures have possibly been going up due to the local promotions for domestic tourism, whilst it does not account for much, with time and continued support from the ministry and other stakeholders, tourism might go back to its former glory.
The CS believes that the sector will be revived fully especially now that “security has greatly improved.” “It is time for tourist charter planes to resume flights into Kenya. It is in this regard that we have unveiled this plan,” Mr Balala added.
The ministry has narrowed down to Malindi and Mombasa because they are preferred holiday destinations for most foreigners. To ensure that the plans works effectively, the ministry will “continue to monitor, evaluate and adjust these incentives every six months in order to suit prevailing market conditions,” said Balala during the announcement of the incentives.
Other tourist destinations in Kenya apart from the coastal region include: the central region where the Mau Mau caves (freedom fighters hid in these caves when fighting colonialists) will provide a great learning experience about Kenya’s history. It is also home for endangered wildlife species and a great challenge for hikes, climbers, and trekkers who would like to go up Mount Kenya from the north.
Then there is the southern circuit which is home to the widely known wildebeest migration. If you have not experienced it, you have watched or read about the breathtaking experience at the Mara among other spectacular sceneries like the Amboseli. The great Rift Valley will lift your spirits as you explore the dormant volcanos of Suswa, Longonot and Mengai. Bird lovers have an opportunity to visit Rift Valley’s Lake Nakuru, and Lake Naivasha. Hot springs, wildlife, and Kenyan history are some of the things you can enjoy in this area that has produced best of Kenya’s athletes.
In the western part of Kenya, there is the crying stone of Kakamega which locals believe is sacred place. The vast Lake Victoria, tropical rain forests and highland in this great land of the Luo and luhya communities are some of the places you would like to tour. And there is the unforgettable spectacle of bullfights at Kakamega.
For Kenya’s finest wood carvings, then the Eastern circuit in Ukambani will provide just that. The twin Tsavo National parks are also located here and there is no other better way to experience wildlife in this vast land on your drive from Nairobi to the coast.
The Northern parts of the country will give you an experience of a lifetime- the Maralal camel Derby. Moreover, there are more parks for you to explore, plateaus that will live you in awe, and wilderness to explore. Bisandani and Rahole Reserves await your exploration, not to mention the Meru National park.
Kenya provides a variety of menu items at your pleasure. Make a choice to “Tembea Kenya” either as a local or a foreign tourist.
Image Credit: Activemotion Kenya