It was that time of the year when movers and shakers of Africa’s travel and tourism industry assembled under one roof to discuss, network and chart a new path for the development of tourism on the continent.
Kenya’s bustling capital of Nairobi renowned for being the only city in the world by virtue of having a national park within its boundaries hosted tourism’s Crème de’ la crème.
The Kenyatta International Convention Centre would be the epicenter for the 9th Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE).
Hosted media, buyers had lived the magic and experienced the home of the Lion King ahead of the opening.
Pomp and Pageantry
There was never a dull moment as the enchanting African traditional music and display heralded the official opening.
This year’s event was held under the theme “embracing innovation for authentic and memorable experiences. It focused on how innovation in the tourism industry can create authentic and memorable experiences for the consumer. The signature experiences of the destination have seen the Kenya tourism board refocus on that.
The Cabinet Secretary of Tourism and Wildlife Najib Balala was accompanied by other Senior Government Officials to open the 9th edition of the exhibition. In his Keynote speech to officially open this year’s event at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre in Nairobi, Balala cited improvement of safety and security in the country as one of the key highlights of these interventions.
“To sustain our growth in the tourism sector, the government has refocused its effort on areas of safety and security, infrastructure improvement, incentives as well as sustained campaigns on source markets to increase destination awareness.
In a strong message to the travel trade, he said Kenya has moved from the over reliance on safaris to a destination which offers all round experiences. He added that, the government of Kenya is ready to take advantage of the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, & Exhibitions (MICE) business and after gazetting the National Convention Bureau announced the appointment of Kenya Tourism Board’s Director of Marketing Jacinta Nzioka to lead and coordinate its operations. Gastronomy and Kenya’s cuisines is to be part of the experiences that will help drive tourism to the Harambee nation.
Unveiling of refreshed Magical Kenya Brand
Having unveiled the new brand of Magical Kenya months ago, the MKTE was just another fine opportunity to showcase the new destination brand to the travel trade and the inspiration behind that.
The expo continues to grow in leaps and bounds. This year witnessed growth in participation with 200 African exhibitors, over 150 prequalified hosted buyers from 25 source markets globally, 3 exclusive networking events and 3 focused seminars with top industry professionals.
The Ugandan sponsored media Centre afforded the media opportunity to seek clarity and also have exclusive interviews with personalities making news in the travel industry. The Cabinet Secretary of Tourism Najib Balala shed more light on Kenya’s tourism policies and future plans. The CEO of the Uganda Tourism Board Lilly Ajarova used the occasion to announce the POATE 2020 and briefed the press about the country’s readiness for the MICE business.
MKTE offered insights into the evolving tourism industry and help Destination Marketing Companies (DMCs), policy makers and players in the Tourism chain to plan well and meet demands of the changing world. Among the topical issues up for discussion were ; Tourism and digital transformation: The impact of technology on tourism was discussed thoroughly by experts.
Presentations on UK and Chinese markets were made at the presentation theatre. The never-ending discussion on Leisure Tourism Vrs Business events (MICE) was unpacked by team of experts. It summed up how both can work for the good of the destination.
The Maasai Market
Tourism they say enriches and it was in the same vein that organizers created the avenue for participants to spend some money in the host community. Artifacts, souvenirs and were some of the merchandize that
Ever since the introduction of the students program at MKTE two years ago, the program has seen sturdy growth and this year had students desirous to volunteer and also the opportunity to engage with actors in the tourism space.
Hosted buyers and media once again had the opportunity to experience the destination’s unique tourism offering. Itineraries include trips to Maasai Mara, Diani Beach, Lamu, Meru, National Park, Amboseli National Park, Taita Salt lake, just to mention a few. The Kenya Tourism Board, MKTE organisers and over 50 Kenya suppliers held out these together.
Participants gave the event thumbs up and were thrilled by Kenya’s experienced based product. International media and hosted buyers had this to say ‘’
“The Spirit of the Masai Mara, and the Mara was an experience like no other. I was like a kid watching the Lion King for the very first time! This conservancy is beaming with life – lush landscapes with diverse animal population. You don’t know where to look next. This magical experience has filled my soul with hope, thanks to the Masai people and their teachings of respect for our environment and living in harmony with all. The Spirit of the Maasai Mara now lives within me” Lance Gibbons, publishing editor – The Event Africa.
The curtains finally came down after a successful three days event at the KICC. The fireworks have gradually become part and parcel of the expo. The sky was lit with the mesmerizing fireworks to wrap up the show.
KICC’s new look
There comes a point in time in an Organization when it becomes necessary to present new look to inspire the brand. This was the case of KICC where they left the it for the last day to showcase their new corporate look.
The event lived up to its billing of discovering, experiencing and connecting with tourism’s marquee players. Until the event’s big 10th anniversary, stay updated with VoyagesAfriq on what Magical Kenya has to offer.