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Record turnout for Magical Kenya Travel Expo

Record turnout for Magical Kenya Travel Expo

Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE), the region’s largest international tourism trade show, has grown by leaps and bounds.

In 2009, tourism stakeholders, led by Kenya Airways and the Kenya Tourism Board, came together to organize what was then known as the “Mega Fam Trip” which brought over 250 travel agents and tour operators, as well as travel media from around the world to Kenya to promote the destination.

Once the show was over and the industry took stock, it dawned on them that there was a need for a more organized format of such an event and to be made a permanent feature once a year.

In 2010, “Magical Kenya Travel Expo” (MKTE) was born, already then the region’s largest international tourism trade show which has since then grown by leaps and bounds.

Earlier today, Tourism Cabinet Secretary Hon. Najib Balala did the honor of officially opening the 2016 edition of MKTE, after Chief Guest, H.E. the President Uhuru Kenyatta was busy with the state visit of President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and, therefore, unavailable.

Hon. Balala first walked through the Kenyatta International Convention Centre’s main hall, packed literally to the rafters with exhibition stands before entering the full to capacity Aberdare Hall for a warm reception by hosted buyers, exhibitors, media, invited guests, regional and continental tourism ministry and tourism board representatives, and Uganda’s High Commissioner to Kenya, H.E. Mrs. Angelina Wapakhabulo.

She was pleased to hear that Uganda was leading tourism arrivals from Africa with over 50,000 visitors, in total some 120,000 African visitors now making up a significant part of Kenya’s visitor profile.

Hon. Balala in his address pointed out the increased level of regional cooperation with, in particular, Uganda and Rwanda, strengthened by a two-day meeting earlier in the week at the Lake Elementaita Serena Luxury Camp, where among other resolutions the tagline for the upcoming WTM in London was coined as “Borderless East Africa.”

The Cabinet Secretary also confirmed that the three countries would exhibit in London from one common stand, no doubt a harbinger of things to come when this form of cooperation really takes root.

After declaring MKTE2016 officially opened, he then launched another novelty and innovation, the “Kenya Tourism Passport.”

The official opening was followed by a media briefing and Q&A session, during which the Cabinet Secretary appealed to the pilots’ union to stop their strike threats against national airline Kenya Airways to avoid what he implied would be irreparable damage. He also assured the media present that within a month, significant changes at Kenya Airways would be announced, in line with requirements by the regulators of the Kenya Stock Exchange vis-a-vis listed companies. He stressed that everything would be done by the book while he time and again expressed his hope that the strike threat would be lifted.

Questions also turned the spotlight on the absence of Tanzania and Burundi from the joint tourism UniVisa and exhibition stand cooperation, prompting the Cabinet Secretary to appeal for patience to give these two EAC partner states more time to decide, something which did not go down too well in the room as several years had already passed since the common tourist visa was launched at WTM London in 2013.

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