Tourism industry upbeat on growth from Berlin exhibition

[PHOTO: COURTESY]
Magical Kenya’s stand at this year’s Internationale Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany received a large number of visitors with inquiries on destination Kenya.

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said apart from having a unique large stand, most Kenyan firms exhibiting at the show did roaring business, with many signing new deals.

“We had lots of inquiries on the ambitious Charter Incentive Programme (CIP) that we launched in 2016 and which seeks to attract more charter flights to our destination,” he said.

Mr Balala led a delegation of more than 40 travel trade players and exhibitors to the ITB, which ended yesterday to pitch for tourism business among over 180,000 exhibitors.

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He said the government had extended the CIP to June 30, 2020 and was looking into the possibility of extending it to 2022.

“CIP brought in the much desired numbers of charter flights that now average 10. This is still not enough and we are looking at engaging with more international charter flights to come onboard and start flights to Mombasa,” the CS told Weekend Business by phone.

He said the government had pumped in Sh200 million into the CIP and got direct revenue totalling Sh3.7 billion from it.

Balala said beaches and wildlife remain Kenya’s key tourism attractions and the country is boosting efforts towards conservation.

He said under the National Wildlife Strategy, sustainability and governance is one of the pillars of focus to ensure co-ordination, effective implementation of wildlife conservation.

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“Sustainable tourism is our key priority, it is a necessity in today’s tourism business and Kenya is making her strides towards this,” he said.

The CS called on Europe to consider a total ban of ivory trade. Europe and Japan are currently the largest markets for ivory.

He said Kenya has stepped up efforts on harnessing the blue economy and the plastic ban is one of the success stories towards this goal.

“We have a success story on plastic ban. Kenya is an example to other East African nations and the world for her moratorium on plastic in 2017. The ban has reduced the number of plastics getting into the Indian Ocean waters, thus mitigating the real threat to marine life,” Balala said.

Pride Inn Group of Hotels Managing Director Hosnain Noorani, part of the Kenyan delegation, said his firm’s participation at the annual fair was fruitful.

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“There is a lot of interest in Kenya especially the idyllic Coast destination. We salute the government for its initiative on CIP as it allows for more profiling of destination Kenya by international airlines involved in charter business,” he said.

Mr Noorani is also chairman of the Coast Tourism Working Group.

He urged the government to speed up key infrastructure projects such as roads that would make accessibility to the Coast region easier.

“The issue of having open skies policies need to be actualised and made a reality if we are to break even and the Kenya Tourism Board should  do more to promote Coast destination,’’ he said.

Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers Chief Executive Mike Macharia termed the reception on Kenyan participation at ITB, excellent.

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“There was a lot of interest in Kenya. The 42 firms from Kenya did very good business and we expect a further 20 per cent growth in tourism this year,” he said.

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Magical KenyaInternationale Tourism BourseBerlin