All’s quiet on the tourism front as everyone heads to Berlin

It is strangely quiet in the world of tourism right now. Email servers around the globe are beginning to send out auto responses saying the recipient will be out of the office. Where is everyone? Heading to ITB Berlin, of course, and this year marks the event’s golden 50th anniversary, so it is sure to be special.

From Kenyan, a large contingent made up of a cross section of the country’s tourism industry, will be leaving Nairobi shortly for Germany to attend the annual ITB, short for Internationale Tourismus Boerse, the world’s leading tourism trade fair.

Led by Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala, the Kenyans this year are once again beaming with confidence for better days ahead. Balala just chaired a strategy session at the Amboseli Serena Lodge, and members of the delegation have left no doubt that the changes the industry has seen since Balala took over from his luckless predecessor are “very inspiring to say the least.”

Nearly 50 companies and several counties, among them Mombasa, Kwale, and Nairobi, are joining the Kenya Tourism Board team, this year headed by Jacinta Nzioka who was recently appointed as Acting CEO of the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) after Muriithi Ndegwa’s second term of office had come to an end.

Kenya enjoys a substantial patronage from German tourists having a market standing of fifth highest in the number of tourist arrivals to Kenya with a market share of 5.1% as at the end of 2015. This comes after the UK, US, UAE, and India.

This year’s edition of ITB will see Cabinet Secretary (CS), Hon Balala, share some of the recent government incentives he has initiated as part of the sector’s recovery. The Charter Incentive Program is a key ingredient, and the CS will be meeting all the major charter companies in Italy and Germany ahead of ITB to inform them about the financial benefits now in place for flights to the Kenyan coast.

The program is aimed at recovering lost business from tourist charter aircrafts that used to terminate at Moi International and Malindi airports. This incentive will also see all tourist charter aircrafts with passengers terminating at these two airports, enjoy free landing and a passenger subsidy of US$30 per tourist if 80% of the passengers on board will terminate in Kenya. These incentives have been put in place to reward charter operators who choose Kenya as the preferred tourism destination and make long-term commitments on the route. This will guarantee a gradual increase in the number of tourist arrivals that will help spur the economy to generate the much-needed tourism revenues and jobs over the period.

The government has also revised park entry fees to allow for more tourists both locally and internationally to access game parks and boost tourism in the country.

Kenya is exhibiting alongside partners Uganda and Rwanda, and all delegations will be more than happy to receive tourism trade visitors at the stand.