Kenya’s image has received a major facelift following the endorsement of a global tourism organisation.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation Secretary General Taleb Rifai on Saturday attended Mombasa International Cultural Festival giving the 10-day event a major international appeal.
I am happy to attend this festival, which gives visitors an experience of the Kenyan diverse culture and friendly people, he said.
Mr Rifai attended the event after conclusion of the East Africa Tourism Development forum, which was organised by the UNWTO and the government.
During the event on Saturday, Mr Rifai was accompanied by Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie among other officials.
The UNWTO boss also toured the beaches and Fort Jesus to show the world that Mombasa is safe for holidaymakers.
At the same time, East African countries have resolved to form a single tourism marketing board to help promote the destination during the just-concluded meeting at the coastal city.
The five countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi also resolved to fast-track implementation of the single tourist visa to make travel easier for local and international visitors.
Government ministers and representatives agreed to promote regional tourism to avoid overreliance on European source markets.
The three-day conference, which was held at Sarova Whitesands Beach Resort was attended by delegates from 10 countries including Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Seychelles, South Sudan and Rwanda.
Mrs Kandie said East Africa would work out ways of establishing a regional marketing platform to oversee promotion campaigns to spur growth.
Ministers and representatives from East Africa have resolved to work out strategies of forming a single tourism marketing board to promote our products in tourist source markets, she said.
So far, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda have agreed to implement the single tourist visa. It is our hope that Tanzania and Burundi will also join us, said Mrs Kandie.
Yesterday, Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho told the Nation that the cultural event was successful as it attracted visitors from around the world.
He said the county would find ways of enhancing the festival to attract more tourists. I am delighted that our cultural festival was able to attract the UNWTO secretary general and delegates who attended the East Africa Tourism Development forum, he said.
The governor said Mombasa would co-operate with the private sector in planning next year’s festival to woo more local and international cultural enthusiasts and holidaymakers to the tourism hub.