Mombasa, October 20, 2018 – The 79th Skal International World Congress ended on Saturday with the election of Lavone Wittmann from South Africa a new president of the global tourism body. Wittmann garnered 75 votes beating Rafael Perez from Mexico who got 66 votes.
The president serves for a one-year term.
Skal is a professional organization of tourism leaders from around the world with the aim of promoting global tourism. It has about 15,000 members in 400 clubs based in over 90 countries. Members are drawn from hospitality industry's managers and executives who meet at local, national, regional and international levels in a congress similar to the Mombasa event.
The four-day Mombasa event dubbed “Congress on the Beach” was attended by delegates from 38 countries, the first time the Spain-based organization is holding the global event in Africa.
According to Tourism and Wildife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, holding the event in Kenya reaffirms the country’s position as a leading player in the world of tourism and a safe destination.
He urged the delegates to spread the message about the current status of the destination to the rest of the world.
“Two years ago I was in Monaco, where I stood before you, pleading with you to come to Mombasa. You can now see for yourself why. This is a safe, peaceful and beautiful destination, which has suffered unnecessarily from circumstances beyond our control,” said Balala.
Kenya’s tourism sector has recently been on the rebound with 2017arrivals, standing at 1.45 million up from 1.33 million visitors in 2016, the highest number of visitors the country had received in four years.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council, Kenya’s travel and tourism industry is responsible for 15.3 per cent of total exports and 8.9 per cent of total employment. WTTC predicts a six per cent annual growth over the coming decade.
According to Balala, there is a need to improve infrastructure and diversify tourism products especially in Mombasa in order to attract more numbers.
“Worth noting is that we have heavily invested in the revamping of our infrastructure, with major expansions and renovations undertaken at our two major airports in Nairobi and Mombasa. Among the efforts include the improvement of roads in Mombasa, especially those leading in and out of the airport, rehabilitation of the Kibarani dumpsite, the upcoming bridge between Mombasa Island and mainland, and the dualing of the Malindi-Lunga Lunga highway,” said Balala.
Among the resolutions passed during the Mombasa congress was the confirmation of Miami as the host city for the 2019 congress and the successful bid Croatia to host the event in 2020.