Tourism promotion in US successful, Phyllis Kandie says
“It’s been a very successful visit, very useful to Kenya, because we have been able to tell Americans the real story about what’s happening in our country,” Ms Kandie said in an interview with the Nation.
The travel warning issued recently by the US State Department is “very negative, very alarming, but it’s not the truth,” she said.
Ms Kandie, who is accompanied by and Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa, said she they are telling US tourism executives that incidents of terrorism “have not affected all parts of the country.”
“Americans appear to understand that, she added, noting that the number of US tourists traveling to Kenya’s national parks has not diminished.
“Amazingly, Maasai Mara is almost full,” Ms Kandie said.
She also cited the recent UN environmental conference in Kenya attended by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and delegates from more than 160 countries.
“It shows Kenya is not a country that is unsafe,” Ms Kandie said.
Offering assurances to prospective visitors, the CS said Kenya has improved security, with a lot of investment going into the number of police officers as well as helicopters so they can quickly reach hot spots.
Ms Kandie said she has not held discussions regarding the long-stalled effort to initiate direct flights from the US to Kenya.
Delta Airlines was about to inaugurate service from Atlanta in to Nairobi in 2009, but US Department of Homeland Security refused to give clearance due to what it said were “security vulnerabilities in and around Nairobi.”
More than 115,000 Americans visited Kenya in 2013, making the US the second-largest source of tourists behind the UK.
Ms Kandie said she plans to return to the US in August to promote Kenya as a safe tourism destination.