Africa: CS Balala leads Kenyan delegation at US tour operators’ conference

balala tourism arrivals kenya tourists Najib

The Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, Hon. Najib Balala is in the United States of America to attend the 2018 United States Tour Operators Association (USTOA) Annual Conference that is set to begin on 27th November to 30th November 2018.

The conference will take place at the JW Marriott Phoenix Desert Ridge in Phoenix, Arizona.

The conference provides a forum for destinations that are members of USTOA to meet with top executives of USTOA’s Active Tour Operator members on a one-to-one basis.

At least 800 attendees, representing North American tour operators, Destination Management Companies and suppliers from domestic and international travel destinations, are expected to attend the conference.

Speaking upon arrival in New York City, CS Balala – who is also the Chairman of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) Commission for Africa, said Kenya’s participation in the conference seeks to increase destination brand visibility in the U.S market through engagements with key travel trade media.

“We will provide destination updates and showcase new products as well as the Top and Signature travel experiences that Kenya has to offer. We will identify opportunities for joint marketing with U.S travel and tour operators leveraging on Kenya Airways’ direct flight from Nairobi to New York City that was launched on 28th October 2018.”

“Kenya’s safari experience is one of the world’s most spectacular travel experiences and has put Kenya both on the global map and on many American travellers’ bucket lists. As more North Americans look to Africa as their next big vacation destination, there is an opportunity to create greater travel interest in Kenya more than any other destination in Africa.”, CS Balala added.

The United States of America is Kenya’s number one and best performing tourism source market, accounting for 12.2 percent of international arrivals at September 2018. Kenya projects a 15 percent increase in visitor arrivals from the US on the back of Kenya Airways’ direct flight between New York City and Nairobi.

Kenya’s participation in the conference is especially timely considering the findings of a recent survey by USTOA which indicated that about nearly all respondents (95%) said they anticipated further growth in sales for 2018, with 64 percent of member operators forecasting that 2018 will be a boom year.

On Tuesday, 27th November 2018, CS Balala is scheduled to speak at a panel discussion during the USTOA Conference’s Destination for Destinations Forum. The forum will cover key topics which include expanding innovative partnerships with tour operators, airlines, and strategic alliances such as Google, Amazon and other media companies, overtourism and how to effectively manage for the future as well as engagement with Travel/Advisor/Agent community.

Kenya Tourism Board has sponsored the All Member Opening General Session scheduled for Wednesday, 28th November 2018.

Commenting on the sponsorship of the session, Kenya Tourism Board Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Betty Radier has said KTB’s sponsorship of the session provides Kenya with an opportunity to share information on the destination’s new marketing model of top and signature experiences.

“KTB will also have the opportunity to speak about Kenya’s unique selling proposition, the direct flight to New York and other developments in the destination. The All Member Opening General Session will basically provide KTB with an opportunity to tell a story about Kenya.”

Later on, the Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary is scheduled to host a round table media session with key U.S travel media.

CS Balala is also scheduled to meet CNN’s Richard Quest who recently visited Nairobi ahead of the launch of the direct flight from Nairobi to New York City. His week-long tour helped to showcase Nairobi not only as the Safari Capital of the world but also as a modern and dynamic hub destination for global business and leisure travelers.


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