Anything from internal wrangles to logistical challenges to lack of international interest to continuing disagreements with the Tanzanian private sector have been cited as reasons why S!TE, the Swahili International Tourism Expo, has failed to take off this year.
While sources close to the regional tourism apex body EATP have already months ago intimated that the fair may not take off this year, have the organizers, either due to gross negligence or else perhaps to mislead the market, kept the tradeshow advertised on their Facebook page but notably also on their official website until yesterday. In a hasty move, probably anticipating an upcoming broadside, the information there was then changed at the very last moment, speaking of a ‘postponement’ until 12 months from now which for all intent and purpose is a cancellation of the event rather than what the site peddles one to believe.
The site sensibly also removed claims to be the largest such fair, accepting reality that it is Kenya’s Magical Kenya Travel Expo which has led in the wider region since its inception.
Says the website now: ‘The Swahili International Tourism Expo (S!TE) one of the largest tourism trade platforms in the East African region has been postponed to October 2017. The Tanzanian Tourist Board has listened to the feedback received from both the exhibitors and the buyers and would like sufficient time to engage with the industry to further explore and effect the changes that have been suggested’.
When discussing the development with some key staff involved in the organization of the Arusha based ‘Karibu Travel Market’ and the Moshi based ‘KiliFair’ did it become apparent that the sentiments ahead of the inaugural S!TE event prevailed and that narratives received from the two editions staged by Mr. Denis Gathanju of Safari Communications continue to hold water, no matter what the Swahili Expo organizers said then in response.
‘Cancelling such an event with so short public notice is a disgrace. They knew for months it would not happen and still went on to pretend otherwise. It is a direct result of the trade’s reaction to S!TE competing head on with Karibu and this year they paid the price’ did an Arusha based regular source say in closing after discussing the situation with him.
In stark contrast has the Magical Kenya Travel Expo once again grown in size this year with nearly 200 hosted buyers and a large contingent of local, regional and international media representatives present for MKTE 2016 which will take place at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre from the 12th to the 14th of October inclusive.
The trade show is also providing the stage for the annual EcoWarrior Award Ceremony, to be held at the Radisson Blu Nairobi, during the closing gala dinner.