Amid terror attacks, Kenya attempts repairing image online

The Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has launched a plan to restore the country’s image online following a series of terror attacks and animal poaching incidents.

The board announced it plans using over KSh 200 million ($2.3 million) to kickstart a campaign to counter a mass exodus of tourists from Kenya, after governments from countries such as the UK have warned citizens about travelling to the country.

The warnings have come amid a series of gun and grenade attacks in Nairobi and Mombasa. The attacks have been blamed on Somali militant group al Shabaab, which is fighting to get Kenyan troops to withdraw from an African peacekeeping unit in Somalia.

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UK firm, National Review, has already been contracted by the KTB to carry out the online reputation campaign at a cost of Kshs 10 million ($118,000).

The online campaign aims to push positive news on search engines to the first page and hold them there for at least six months.

But according to Johann Jensen, the chief executive officer of African and Mideast hotel booking website, online reputation alone cannot be enough to bring back the tourists.

“In tourism, it’s hard to think of online and offline reputations as separate. With the amount of information available to travellers online today, a country’s online reputation is or at least will soon become their offline reputation. Doing tourism well means building trust with visitors. Countries must really match or exceed their visitors’ expectations,” Jensen told ITWeb Africa.

He added that successful public relations activities need to be done in the targeted markets on the ground.

He also said that having diverse online campaigns such as social apps, use of social media and games competitions could help activate the millions of Kenyans showcase their country’s beauty.

“These online solutions could reach out to the millions of tourists planning their trips already and have a realistic chance of changing their minds and generating much needed content to counter the barrage of bad press,” he said.

“SleepOut, for example, is currently working with KTB and the World Bank to support the accommodation sector in building the most complete database of the country’s hotels, resorts, lodges and guest houses yet there is much more that needs to be done.”

During the last month, the country has seen a sharp decline in tourist numbers from traditional source markets including the United State, United Kingdom and Australia due to travel advisory resulting from runaway insecurity.


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