Nairobi: Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) once again hosted the biggest tourism and travel trade show in East Africa, the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE). This year was the 9th edition of the expo held from October 2-4, 2019.
MKTE 2019 deliberates on impact of technology in tourism, role of storytelling in community-based tourism and MICE
KTB’s strategic objective of enhancing the visitor experience as well as increasing their awareness of the country’s offerings in tourism is addressed by MKTE. The current traveller is keen on stand out experiences and has choices around the world. MKTE seeks to meet the aspirations of the Kenya tourism industry and its committed stakeholders. As a platform it offers an opportunity to access a gathering of East Africa’s tourism leaders, policymakers, leading tourism products, global buyers and media from around the world. The three-day event welcomed 200 exhibitors from Africa who met with 150 global buyers from 25 of their key source markets.
In 2018, 5520 pre-scheduled meetings took place at MKTE through their effective business matchmaking system. Held at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, the theme for this year was “Embracing Innovation for Authentic and Memorable Experiences”. Panel discussions on “The impact of Technology on Tourism”, “The role of Storytelling in Community-based Tourism” and a focus group on “MICE sector and the Opportunities it provides for Kenya” were held during MKTE.
Tourist arrivals to Kenya increased from over 1.4 million in 2017 to more than 2 million in 2018. This signifies a dramatic 37 per cent increase. Tourists in Kenya spent over KSh 157 billion, accounting for over 15 per cent of total exports. 1,25,000 Indians visited Kenya in 2018, making India the fifth largest source market globally after the USA, UK, Tanzania, and Uganda.
Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Najib Balala, while officially inaugurating MKTE 2019 cited improvement of safety and security situation in the country as one of the key reasons promoting the growth in tourism. He was confident the country will see at least a 10 per cent growth in tourism numbers this year.
“The positive outlook is already visible in the first quarter of the year (July-September) during which international arrivals closed at 6,04,690, compared to the same period last year which posted 5,87,385 arrivals. This is a growth of 2.9 per cent,” said Betty Radier, CEO, KTB
While cruise tourism is growing vastly worldwide, Balala said Kenya is working towards leveraging this segment. “Kenya is almost completing the construction of the cruise terminal in Mombasa and we anticipate it will be ready by the end of the year. This is set to open major businesses in the country and Kenya will be competing with the rest of the world.” Kenya Tourism Board acknowledges the importance of the MICE segment and has recently gazetted the National Convention Bureau. The Director of Marketing at KTB Jacinta Nzioka will head the newly established National Convention Bureau.
“India is an important market for us and I am eager to push our MICE products in India,” said Nzioka. The new Air India flight from Mumbai to Nairobi will boost MICE prospects from India for the East African nation. Besides MICE, Kenya is also looking at partnering with the Indian film industry, said Balala adding that they were working with the film commission to offer rebates and other benefits to encourage filmmakers to shoot in Kenya. Balala confirmed that he will be travelling to India soon as “it is an emerging market which just cannot be ignored.”