KENYA’S ACTING PRESIDENT TELLS MKTE2014 ATTENDEES THAT MAGICAL KENYA IS SAFE
(Posted 09th October 2014)
Over 170 hosted buyers and representatives of the over 100 exhibitors filled the Kenyatta International Convention Centre’s Aberdare Room to the brim yesterday when Kenya’s Acting President William S. Ruto officially opened this year’s Magical Kenya Travel Expo, his presence an assurance to the country’s tourism industry that the sector remains a key pillar of Kenya’s economy and the government’s intent to do what it takes to aid the recovery from what has admittedly been a difficult year. The Acting President also pointed out that the launch of new facilities at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, the new Terminal 1A is well on the way to full functionality and will be the exclusive home to national airline Kenya Airways and the SkyTeam partners, has finally added much needed capacity to ensure that Nairobi will remain East Africa’s main aviation gateway, one of Africa’s top three hub airports with daily connections to the entire world.
All the main names of Kenya’s tourism industry were present, making sure that the stands in the main exhibition hall were sold out while most of the country’s 47 counties were exhibiting too, using an array of smaller exhibition tents just outside the hall entrance, to accommodate this year’s added component of showcasing the attractions visitors can find in each county, from the Kenya coast to Lake Victoria.
Also exhibiting were neighbours Uganda and Rwanda – linked with their Kenyan colleagues through the new common tourist Visa which allows visits to all three countries at a reduced cost – and from further away on the continent Zimbabwe and South Africa had come to show their support. India tourism too was present as was newcomer Indonesia.
‘Bigger and better’ was the consensus among exhibitors and trade visitors, many of whom were particularly complimentary about the separate seminar day the Kenya Tourism Board had added, during which, as reported here two days ago, a range of relevant topics were extensively discussed.
Acting President William Ruto had the room sit up and take notice when he explained why he thought Kenya was magical, as he narrated his own visit to Lake Turkana and the ‘Cradle of Mankind’ before adding the beaches, the savannahs, the forests and the mountains, the rivers and lakes, including Africa’s largest – Lake Victoria – before turning to Kenya’s greatest asset, her friendly and welcoming people. All of that combined, like no other place on earth, in his view makes up ‘Magical Kenya’, a place connected to the world by all major airlines, worth visiting and safe to visit.
(Seen here is Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie with KTB’s Managing Director Muriithi Ndegwa)
Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie, who oversees the tourism portfolio, in a separate one on one exchange with this correspondent expressed her hope that in particular the international media would report positively, not only about MKTE2014 but the country at large and take notice of an improved security situation after the UK had only days earlier began to tone down the travel advisories which were issued earlier in the year.
KTB Chief Executive Muriithi Ndegwa was swift to add that the ongoing product diversification, aimed to capture new market segments together with the opening up of new and emerging markets, would in time to come bear fruits as arrival numbers into the country were beginning to grow again.
Overall there was a sense of cautious optimism from exhibitors that Kenya’s tourism industry had at last reached a turning point, and many in fact reported signing deals with hosted buyers, who came from 36 countries in Africa, Europe, the Gulf, Asia and America.
The road to recovery, the road to reach and then exceed the famous statistics of 2011, which was Kenya’s all time record breaking year in arrival numbers and tourism revenues, will no doubt take a while but there was a sense that the light at the end of the tunnel was now visible again and getting brighter.