The International Tourism Bourse (ITB), Berlin, the Leading Travel Trade Show that provides a business platform for global touristic offers closed yesterday at the back drop of a lot of optimism in Kenyas tourism sector.
The Cabinet Secretary, Tourism Hon. Najib Balala and leader of the Kenya delegation that saw 42 companies represent destination, attended key international meetings among them the Hotel Investment Forum (IHIF), as well as the UNWTO sideline sessions which also served to introduce some of the candidates for the Secretary General UNWTO position.
The Cabinet Secretary gave an update on the sector to media at the destination press conference that was held at the opening day of the ITB. Key issues shared with the media included the countrys enhanced positive image as a result of hosting many international fora, the positive growth in the sector at the close of 2016, as well as enhanced infrastructure that is complementing tourism efforts among other highlights.
Hon. Balala also had an opportunity to meet key tour operators in the European market like Condor and Thomas Cook on long-term partnerships and marketing corporations. These companies have over the years supported marketing Kenya as a preferred destination to their clients. Kenya was also represented at the 32nd meeting of the UNWTO World Tourism Network on Child Protection, which focused on the role of governments in advancing the fight against the exploitation of children in tourism, that called on the communities, private sector, academia and, most importantly, governments to play a leading role in this.
The forum provided an opportunity for exchange of experiences and best practices.
“Kenya must continue to present her tourism offering in international forums to ensure that the destination is top of mind for travellers and marketing destination companies, ITB is one such platform. Tourism plays a key role in the Countrys economy and can therefore not be underestimated”, said Hon. Balala.
The over 40 travel traders representing Kenya at the exhibition termed their participation as worthwhile. This came at the backdrop of positive information that will boost the sector; Kenya recently received the Category 1 status and the UK government removing the travel advisory against travel to Lamu and Manda Island.
Last year, ITB’s business success was rated at 93%, of the employed trade visitors achieved a very good to satisfactory business result at ITB Berlin. 82% of the exhibiting companies rated the business success of their participation at ITB Berlin as positive. On the follow up business, the show stood at 88% for the exhibitors, who expected a positive follow up after trade show business.
Kenya enjoys a substantial patronage of German tourists with the market’s current standing being at fifth highest in the number of tourists to Kenya with a market share of 5% as at the end of 2016. The ranking reads US, UK, India, China and Germany.