Kenyan tourist industry sets sights on Nigeria as it seeks fresh clientele to replace falling numbers

KENYA'S tourist industry has stepped up its targeting of the Nigerian market in response to falling numbers as global visitors dwindle in the face of harsh economic conditions that has left many with less disposable income.


Historically, the Nigerian has the record of being the most travelled indigenous African and at the same time, flights to Nigeria remain the most profitable route per passenger for most airlines. With economic downturn, coupled with stringent visa conditions introduced by many countries in Europe, Asia and the US, many Nigerians are reviewing their travel destinations and are beginning to exploit African countries to go and spend their holidays.


According to Statista, in 2021 out of the many countries Nigerians travelled to for business and for leisure, Ghana ranked number one, followed by the US, Ethiopia, Senegal and Togo. In fact, 38% of Nigerians who travelled out of the country went to Ghana, while 14% travelled to the US, 6% to Ethiopia, 5% to Senegal and 4% to Togo.


In that same 2021 about 4m Nigerians travelled out of the country but very few ever venture to Kenya or to East Africa in general. Last week,  Kenya carried out a road show with the aim of wooing Nigerians in a bid to raise tourist arrivals by pitching for business and leisure travel.


John Chirchir, the acting chief executive of  Kenya’s Tourism Board (KTB), said the West African market remained integral to its strategy to diversify tourist sources and broaden the country’s destination portfolio. In particular, he noted that Nigeria and Ghana, have shown improvements of 6%  and 48% respectively in 2023 and rank among Kenya’s potential markets on the African continent.


Mr Chirchir said: “With around 1.4bn people, Africa stands as one of the biggest source markets for trade, business, and tourism. We are starting off with West Africa with roadshows in Accra, Lagos and Abuja, which are interesting emerging markets.


"During the activation, we expect the 17 Kenyan trade companies to engage in business meeting and direct engagements with potential travellers from the three cities. We cannot ignore the potential that the African market has for tourism."


Rotimi Martins, the sales manager of Kenya Airways in Nigeria, explained that Nigeria and Ghana have the traction to give them the population they are looking for. He added that Kenya Airways would increase its frequency of flights to Lagos and start flying to Abuja too soon.


Mr Martins added: “Frequency increment has been a thing we are looking at even before the KTB event. Presently we are doing seven flights out of Lagos, which is every day but come April we are going to add one to it, to make it eight and come the summer of this year, we are going to do 10 flights out of Lagos to Nairobi."