Experts have warned that Kenya is missing out on shopping tourism due to a lack of incentivization. The new trend in the travel ecosystem is taking the world by storm with Chinese travellers topping the list of spenders.
According to the World Tourism Organization, people are not just shopping when they travel, but traveling to shop.
The Chinese top the list of spenders splashing over Sh16 trillion every year at top shopping destinations, other top spenders include USA Sh10 trillion, Germany Sh10 trillion, Uk Sh7 trillion and Russia Sh7 trillion.
“Kenya used to attract a lot of shoppers who came in search of our unique curios and cultural artifacts,” Naima travel and tours director Peter Muthii says.
“However right now Tanzania has taken over because of the Kanga and other unique items that are attracting a huge number of visitors.”
Globally, Dubai leads the charge in the hunt for touring shoppers, because they recognized the new trend well in advance and positioned themselves.
Though a trip to the retail shop for souvenirs and destination mementos has always been a part of tourism; in this new trend, shopping is becoming not just a part of the tour but the primary reason for travel.
Yet only destinations that position themselves with unique offerings are benefiting from this. The Dubai shopping festival is a good example of how packaging can attract traffic to a destination.
This year, over 800 participating brands, 3500 outlets are offering 25%-75% reductions throughout the festival.
The festival has a rich itinerary of shopping, give away activations, entertainment, and gastronomic experiences at citywide locations, including malls, high street shops, festival & community markets, and beachside destinations.
“Dubai is one city created from a desert and has challenged the rest of the world on the trumped-up notion of impossibility.” says Entrepreneur and event organizer, Chris Kirwa.
“Kenya has every resource available to compete with the rest of the world. We just have to have a global perspective on how to improve the economy of the country.”
Just a few weeks ago nominated Senator Karen was in a public spat with Mugithi super star Samidoh at a Dubai club.
This story highlighted among other things just how popular Dubai is with the African elite who visit the city for shopping and a good time.
Kenyan mix master Dj Mneddy is the official dj for Kiza Dubai, a hot spot for Africans visiting the magical city. He admits that every single week prominent Africans swing by for a party.
“There are just so many Africans who come to party here, while they are in Dubai,” he says.
“I have played for Former Mombasa governor Joho, former Nairobi governor Sonko, Winnie Odinga, and hosted many Kenyan Dj’s and artistes.
Even in January we have had big Kenyan shows here in Dubai because people are always coming through to shop and party.”
This high traffic is a clear indication that African’s are traveling, but Kenya just like most African countries, have not learnt the art of attracting them.
As a leading tour destination in the region with superior infrastructure, experts hold that Kenya is poised to take advantage of the global trend of Shopping tourism.
This potential will however only be realized if the country learns from the likes of Dubai who have mastered the art of packaging experiences and marketing them really well.