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Travel expo's pleasant surprise at Nairobi fair – Business Daily

Tourism CS Najib Balala (centre) with Kenya Tourism Board CEO Dr Betty Radier (right) at the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo 2022 launch on October 5, 2022. PHOTO | POOL
Kenya is looking to grow its tourist arrivals to 1.46 million tourists by end of the year as it courts new markets with its Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2022 which opened at Bomas in Nairobi yesterday.
The event has attracted buyers from key source markets including the US, Asia, Europe, and Africa who will meet tourism traders and sample products with organised familiarisation visits.
“In addition to the actual show, the event includes diarised meetings with traders, power-panel seminars, and cocktail sessions to encourage networking,” Steve Omondi, the events and exhibition manager at Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) told Business Daily.
The expo attracted more exhibitors than expected, following a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic which hit the travel industry the most.
“We had about 210 exhibitors in 2019 and this year, we saw growth with over 250 participants. We were apprehensive but pleasantly surprised with at least 160 buyers on the first day, ” he said.
The Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) is a business-to-business show that is different from holiday fairs that target consumers.
According to Fatuma Kazungu, the digital communications manager of CityBlue Hotels, the uncertainty of Covid-19 seems to be behind us and they are very optimistic about the future of hospitality.
“Magical Kenya Tourism Expo 2022 is showing us that Kenya is ready to open up to the rest of the world and they are eager to come to us. With buyers from North America, Europe, Asia, and the rest of Africa, we anticipate an influx of new business coming in not only for the remaining part of the year but also for many years to come. MKTE has enabled us to make meaningful partnerships, especially now that the meetings are in person. We have also noticed the need to invest more across Africa as Kenya is becoming the doorway to the rest of Africa,” Ms Fatuma said.
One of the foreign tour agents, Marcello Pacenti of BMS Travellers based in the Netherlands, said he was excited about the familiarisation trips, where tour operators, travel agents experience attraction sites. They toured attractions in Nairobi, Laikipia, Nakuru,and Maasai Mara.
Christine Vel, the director for Africa Seychelles Tourism Board marketing board representative, said the travel expo shows that regional market has a lot to offer.
“There is a need to diversify to include the African market which accounts for less than five percent of the market,” she said.
The three-day event will run until October 7, 2022.
Tourism Secretary Najib Balala, who was at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo 2022 said the arrivals would bring in about Sh265 billion.
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