Kenya to leverage global athletic status to boost tourism

Plan is on for athletics to help boost tourism in Kenya. PHOTO @nnrunningteam

Nairobi, Kenya | Xinhua) | Kenya plans to leverage its global athletic status in order to boost the tourism sector, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala told journalists in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital on Thursday.

Balala said that the country’s long-distance runners are an asset as they are globally renowned for their athletic prowess. “We are going to partner with our athletes who have a global audience in order to showcase our tourism products available,” Balala said when Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) renewed its partnership with world marathon record holder Eliud Kipchoge as the Magical Kenya destination ambassador.

Kipchoge has won 13 of 15 marathons he has participated in since 2013. He is also the world record holder with a time of 2:01:39, and the first man to run a sub-two-hour marathon in the special event dubbed INEOS Challenge in Vienna, Austria.

Kipchoge said that he is delighted to serve Kenya as a tourism ambassador by raising awareness of conservation and the beauty of the East African nation. He was first signed as Kenya’s tourism ambassador in 2020, a partnership that saw the champion promote Kenya as a preferred tourism destination locally, regionally, and internationally through various campaigns.

Kipchoge added that the industry had suffered a lot during the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore required support from all Kenyans, especially during this time when it is looking forward to a comeback.

Balala said that Kenya is prioritizing the tourism sector because it is the second-largest foreign exchange earner in the country.

Kenya is home to 60 national parks and reserves, a broad offering of cultural and historic attractions, and over 500 km of sunny coastline.

Zeinab Hussein, principal secretary in the State Department for Tourism, said that Kenya will recruit local talent with global power in order to spotlight Kenya as a tourism destination through various campaigns.

Hussein added that the country’s athletes will help to interface between the local and international tourists. ■

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