Concerted efforts by tourism stakeholders in Kenya to ta p into the East Europe tourism market is yielding positive fruits, as 5,000 Russian visitors are expected to visit the country during this current high season.
The expected arrival of the tourists was announced by an advance party of 40 Rus sian tourist and travel operators, who are sampling the country’s leading tourist facilities, including beach hotels, game reserves and other tour ist related facilities.
The operators were at the Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa in the countryâ?s sou th coast region, to celebrate with other tourists the winning of the prestigious international annual Amarula award by the resort for service excelle nce in Africa, at the weekend.
The resort won the award after beating Royal Livingstone of Zimbabwe and Camp Ja bulani of South Africa. The award ceremony took place last week at Museum Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa.
The award is given to top hotels in Africa with best retreat, service excellence , consumers’ choice, ultimate in African cuisine and best innovative retreat.
Sergei Zhdanov of the Moscow-based Olga Tour and Travel said the team visited Am boseli national park, Masai Mara and were now touring the Kenyan coast before the landing of their other colleagues in a week’s time.
“We have witnessed tremendous tourist products and Kenya is one of the most beau tiful and attractive destinations which have the potential to compete favourably
with other leading destinations,” said Zhdanov.
”The award will likely lead to significant increase in tourist arrivals from th e hitherto undeveloped but now growing market in far eastern Russia to Kenya,” s aid Zhdanov, who was flanked by fellow countrymen Kirk Teplov and Pummy Singh.
The Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa General Manager, Aman Bhandari, said the awa rd recognizes the rich diversity of retreats throughout Africa, besides assistin g
in promoting the continent as a prime destination for first class world travel.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala described the winning of the award for excellent s ervice by the South Coast tourist resort as an important milestone in efforts to
raise Kenyan’s profile as a destination of choice for both international and local tou rists.
Balala congratulated the hotel for putting the country on the international map and said it would further boost tourism and economy of the country, in addition t o scaling up the current efforts to market the country within the international tourism ci rcuit.
Diani Reef Beach Resort and Spa also scooped the third position in the category of the most innovative retreat in Africa, won by Grootbos Private Nature Reserve
of South Africa.
Kenya has in the recent past embarked on an aggressive marketing campaign to woo tourists outside her traditional Western Europe and American tourist markets b y venturing into Eastern Europe and the Far East.
The venture has started to bear fruits, going by reports from Ministry of Touris m officials and tour operators, who say the Eastern African country has started t o receive a stream of visitors from the regions.