Africa: Kenya gears up for int’l tourism summit amid sector’s revival
Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism and industry partners said on Tuesday that preparations for the 79th International Association of Travel and Tourism Professionals (SKAL) Congress to be held in the port city of Mombasa in October are complete amid optimism on the growth of the sector.
Najib Balala, the Cabinet Secretary for Tourism and Wildlife, said an estimated 500 delegates will participate in the five-day summit that will act as a networking platform for influential players in the global tourism and travel circuit.
“We are honoured to host the upcoming world congress of tourism professionals and the government will offer the necessary support to make it succeed,” Balala told reporters in Nairobi.
Kenya won the bid to host the 79th world congress of travel and tourism professionals after a stiff competition from Peru.
Balala noted that the country’s bid to host the prestigious congress in 2015 was lost due to terror related attacks that dented the image of resort city of Mombasa.
“The government has put strong measures in place to enhance safety of delegates and the facelift of Mombasa city has gone ahead to ensure these visitors enjoy the ambience,” said Balala.
He revealed that majority of delegates for the Oct. 17-21 congress will shuttle from Nairobi to Mombasa via the Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) commuter train while the remainder will use charted flights.
Balala said the government is anticipating robust growth of tourism sector in the last quarter when the country hosts a range of activities like Africa Hotel Investment Forum and Magic Kenya Expo.
“So far the tourism industry is doing well. Maasai Mara hotels are fully booked as wild beasts migration gets underway. We are targeting an 18 percent growth of the industry this year and hope to sustain it longer,” said Balala.
He added that Kenya aims to increase the number of tourist arrivals annually from the current 1.5 million to 2.5 million by 2022.