Kenya’s top business leaders have launched a major campaign to drum up support for the country’s tourism industry, which is struggling to recover from the effects of the post-election violence earlier in the year.
The hospitality sector was hardest hit by the chaos that followed the disputed presidential elections.
A recent visit to the world famous Maasai Mara game reserve dubbed the “Kenya is Open for Business Campaign” brought together members of the British Business Association of Kenya, the Chamber of Commerce and the East African Association. The 250-member delegation, was one of the largest single groups to tour the Mara in the recent past.
Also present were Minister for Tourism Najib Balala, Permanent Secretary Rebecca Nabutola and chairman of the Kenya Tourist Board Achieng Ong’ong’a.
Also on the Maasai Mara tour were heads of foreign missions including Adam Wood (UK), Lisa Filipeto (Australia), Michael Ranneberger (US), Walter Lindner (Germany) George Martin (Switzerland) and the European Union head of delegation Eric Van Der Linden.
Speaking at the event, British Business Association of Kenya (BBAK) chairman Steve Mills, said the event was supported by the 650 companies that form the three associations, with approximately $100,000 being donated in services and in kind to ensure that tourism, which is the backbone of Kenya’s economy, is revived. Another $20,000 was raised through an auction and more money is expected from pledges made at the event.
The executives participated in a “$200 million photoshoot,” denoting the amount of money that the tourism industry lost due to the post-election violence, and which they plan to raise through encouraging visitors to stream back into the country after the pictures circulate worldwide.
The campaign plans to raise another Ksh100 million ($1.5 million) that will be used to set up a trust fund for internally displaced people and other charities.
“In conjunction with Kenya Tourist Board, and our partners abroad, we are putting together a marketing strategy to fast track the recovery of the tourism and woo tourists back to Kenya,” Mr Mills said.
The brains behind the campaign — British Business Association of Kenya — is key in sourcing partnerships and participants, while the other participating associations will raise funds and create awareness among their members.
Several firms took part in the inaugural event. Celtel Kenya, will produce a documentary for the campaign and has sponsored its airing on local TV stations to the tune of Ksh2.5 million ($$39,682). The mobile phone provider will also provide footage for the event that will be aired both in Kenya and overseas. General Motors will provide T-shirts for the campaign.
Air Kenya Express, which flies into Kenya’s major game reserves provided carrier services free of charge for the campaign and airlifted 200 people for the photograph.
Fairmont provided accommodation at the Mara at its Mara Safari camp.
Abercrombie & Kent provided transport around the Mara, including game drives for all the participants in the photo shoot.
Silver Bullet, a division of the AY&R Group will provide strategic planning, media consultancy services and publicity management.
Other sponsors are CRB Africa Group (the different press briefings and publicity); Duncan Willets Production (photography services for the event as well as creative direction for the pictures that will be distributed worldwide); Inca Productions, which will provide design, layout and printing of 3,000 copies of the souvenir magazine to be distributed to leading businesses and participants worldwide.