Joho’s ‘Instagrammable Mombasa’ a top marketing idea for the digital age

Joho’s ‘Instagrammable Mombasa’ a top marketing idea for the digital age

You probably want to visit Santorini, Greece, not because you were at some trade fair where someone handed you a flyer screaming “Visit Santorini” in bold and asked you call some number.

The reason why Bora Bora, Phuket, Marrakech and Lamu may be on your “must visit” bucket list is because you have seen them so much on social media platforms that you feel it is a pilgrimage that must be made.

Welcome to the new era of marketing where a country’s Tourism Board doesn’t need to spend billions to try and woo you to visit a certain destinations.

Our Kenya Tourism Board does a good job when it sends representatives around the globe to go and set up shop and hand over flyers marketing Kenya but social media can do the same with just a few photos and geo-tags.

Granted, they have their roles but Instagram, SnapChat, Facebook and Twitter is where the real marketing happens and you cannot fight it or try to replace it.

That is why when Mombasa Governor Ali Hassan Joho said he wants to make the coastal town “Instagrammable,” it makes so much sense.

Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony of the Ksh.460 million Mama Ngina Drive Park regeneration project in Mombasa which was attended by President Uhuru Kenyatta, Mr. Joho said he wants to invest in the development of Mombasa so it can compete with other destinations globally.

“To be able to compete with other cities, you also must improve on your standards, people look even at linen that you use in your facilities,” he said. “You want quality tourists, invest in quality products…”

It was then that he said some of his attempts are thwarted by government officials and asked the President to intervene.

“Mombasa is no longer the Mombasa we all know… Mheshimiwa Rais, kuna building chache chache hapa za serikali ambae hazitaki kupaka blue and white, ebu waambie amri wapake blue and white. (Mr. President, there are a few buildings here that don’t want to adhere to the blue and white painting, give an order that they paint the buildings blue and white.)

It was then that he explained why he is so insistent on this order.

“It is so that we can transform the city and achieve what we call a city that is instagrammable kwa watalii (to tourists).”

When you think about it, Instagram is all about visuals and so if Mombasa will be “Instagrammable”, that means it will be clean, safe, colourful and one whose amenities will be in order.

When you look at Santorini pictures, you see white on the buildings and the gorgeous blue on the ocean and the skies, a sight to behold.

When you look at images of Bora Bora, again, you see the greenery and the beautiful buildings and people always wearing a smile.

Of course those same places have their dark alleys they wouldn’t want people to see but if you are visiting Santorini and take a turn from the pure white buildings and see raw sewage out in the open, you will easily take a picture and share with the same audience.

To be honest, Mombasa, as it stands, is not Instagrammable, it is not even “MySpace-able” so yes, he may have lost many with his delivery but the point was made loud and clear and in a language many people will understand.

So, here’s to an Instagrammable Mombasa.