Already on day 1 of the ongoing Africa Travel Association Congress in Nairobi, Kenya’s tourism industry is showing keen interest in attending sessions, and there was a constant migration from one to the other meeting rooms as delegates followed topics of their choice.
The ATA Young Professionals Forum was in great demand, giving the next generation of tourism and hospitality leaders the opportunity to interact with their seniors and get valuable career advice, which gave many the chance to begin building a network at the start of their professional life along with ability to receive guidance and assistance at a later stage.
The Kenya Tourism Board CEO Muriithi Ndegwa, provided an early highlight for those attending the congress when he spoke in some detail about tourism marketing for emerging economies while Catherine Ndwiga of the East Africa Tourism Guide added her own insights about the important aspect of product development.
Mary Kimonye, CEO of Brand Kenya, competed with the Kenyatta International Convention Centre CEO Fred Simiyu, and yet both rooms were filled to capacity, some wishing they had a double at hand to sit in both rooms at once as the topics of country branding and business tourism, aimed at the MICE market, attracted equal attention.
In the afternoon’s marketing session, Juergen T. Steinmetz, eTurboNews publisher, took to the podium, telling a captive audience his take on how to maximize media exposure for both destination and businesses, leaving no doubt that a shift from spending a budget entirely on PR companies was not a recipe for success in getting stories into the global travel media. In fact, he demonstrated the down sides of having to deal with PR companies in cases of emergencies, another reason why, in particular tourism boards, and also for airlines and leading hotel companies, direct links should be maintained with the media.
The Kenya Tourism Board, in conjunction with the Africa Travel Association, invited some twenty high-profile travel writers, editors, and correspondents from global market leaders spanning from Turkey to the United States and Canada, from India to Argentina, and from South Africa across the continent to as far as Europe.
While periodic heavy rains swept Nairobi, this did not dampen any spirits by the look of it. Delegates and media representatives also positively mentioned the level of security in place across the city and the various venues visited as part of the congress program, putting to rest any lingering doubt that Kenya as a destination was not safe.
Media invitational tours took participants to Lake Naivasha and Lake Victoria, the Mount Kenya Safari Club and the fancied Alfajiri Villas in Diani, and last but not least the Masai Mara’s Kempinski Olare Mara and Watamu’s Medina Palms. The trip experience, close up and personal, will no doubt further reinforce the message Kenya has put out for some time now – that visiting the country is safe, be it on the safari circuit across the more than 60 national parks or the beaches from Malindi, Watamu, Kilifi, Mombasa’s north coast, and, of course, the award-winning Diani beaches.
The congress continues today with the official opening expected to be performed by President Uhuru Kenyatta, welcoming the ATA delegates to www.magicalkenya.com