Stanbic Bank Kenya and the Industrial Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) on Tuesday launched an initiative to promote tourism and trade between the two countries by offering incentives for travelling, shopping and leisure to tourists visiting the two countries.
Charles Mudiwa, Chief Executive of Stanbic Bank Kenya told a media briefing in Nairobi that under the "I Go Kenya, I Go China" loyalty program, Chinese tourists visiting Kenya will receive discounts and special offers whenever they use ICBC cards at selected travel, hospitality and lifestyle merchants in the country.
Mudiwa noted that Kenyan tourists visiting China will also enjoy similar incentives when using Stanbic Bank Kenya cards.
"I believe that the 'I Go Kenya, I Go China' initiative will deepen relations between Kenya and China by encouraging visits between the two countries, ultimately boosting investment flows. This is good for the tourism industry and the economy as well," Mudiwa said.
Stanbic Bank is a member of the Standard Bank Group whose largest shareholder is ICBC with a 20.1 percent shareholding.
The "I Go Kenya, I Go China" loyalty program follows the launch of a similar credit card offering between Standard Bank Group and ICBC in November 2017 in South Africa for their respective cardholders travelling between the two countries.
Mudiwa noted that the two firms are working together to further expand the loyalty program to other African countries this year.
Guo Ce, the Economic and Commercial Consular at the Chinese Embassy in Kenya, said that the partnership between Stanbic Bank Kenya and ICBC is a symbol of the growing Sino-Kenyan cooperation.
Guo said that in recent years, the bilateral cooperation has resulted in remarkable benefits for the people of the two countries.
He added that total bilateral trade hit approximately 3.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2017 while 400 Chinese companies have so far been established in Kenya and have employed some 120,000 locals.
The Chinese diplomat said that Chinese firms have been involved in over 100 mega projects in Kenya including in the construction and finance of the Standard Gauge Railway that will play a significant role in making the country, a regional logistical hub.
Guo added that the 'I Go Kenya, I Go China' initiative will encourage more Chinese tourists to visit Kenya, noting that Kenya is well placed to be a major tourist destination due to its excellent wildlife resources as well as beach destinations.
Lincoln Mali, Standard Bank's Group Head of Card and Emerging Payment, said that China has emerged as a key economic partner for Africa in recent years.
He said that through the "I Go Kenya, I Go China" program and in partnership with ICBC, there will be strengthening of relations between the two countries by encouraging exchange of visits.
Data from the Kenya Tourism Board indicates that in 2017, China was among the top five tourism source markets contributing 5.5 percent of the traffic.
Sun Gang, the Deputy CEO of ICBC Africa, said that China and Kenya have been long good friends who have been working together for a shared prosperous future.
"Such friendship is manifested in political equality, economic cooperation and win-win results as well as cultural exchanges," Sun said.