NAIROBI, Kenya Apr 5 – The Kenyan tourism industry is expected to showcase itself to South Africans and the rest of the world at this year’s INDABA Tourism Fair in Durban South Africa.
This will be the first time Kenya gets to participate at the exhibition following the signing of bilateral agreements between both governments in August 2009.
Tourism Minister Najib Balala – who will lead the Kenyan delegation to Durban for the weeklong event staring on Saturday – said the fair would provide an opportunity to tap into the South African tourist market, which he underscored, maintained leadership on the African continent.
The participation at the fair, which is in its 14th edition, sits well with the ministry’s target of increasing tourist arrivals from Africa by 10 percent yearly.
According to the Minister, Kenya currently only attracts 32,000 tourists from Southern Africa adding the market would help deal with challenges experienced from key source markets such as Europe and America.
“About 50 percent of South Africans visiting Kenya, come on business which indicates there is good potential to fully exploit this market segment,” Mr Balala said adding it was time Africa focused on intra-African tourism rather than depending on foreign tourism.
Kenya is the only country outside the Southern African Development Community allowed to participate in the fair, which provides a popular marketing platform for the exhibitors.
During the fair Kenya will be able to put up billboard advertisements in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Durban. Through the Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), 30-second Kenyan advertisement will run on pay channel DSTV as well as a documentary showcasing Kenyan tourist attractions.
Mr Balala however pointed out that the government would have to increase its budgetary allocation to the ministry if it was to mount a significant bid to attract more tourists.
“The South Africa Tourism Board has $17 million to spend on developing its tourism sector while we have to contend with $7 million. They have the resource to be proactive when it comes to ideas. We have the ideas but lack resources,” he said.
The tourism fair is also expected to give Kenya a platform to make a last ditch effort in attracting tourists ahead of the FIFA World Cup between June and July.
South African High Commissioner to Kenya Tony Msimanga has in the past said the government had been slow to put in place the necessary infrastructure that would have attracted participating teams to set up training camps in Kenya.
Mr Balala however said analysis carried out by industry players showed the country would ultimately benefit during the period, which also coincides with tourist low season.
“We have observed that our low season June/July is going to be a good season because there are those who feel South Africa will be too hectic because of football and would opt to come to Kenya instead,” he said.
At the same time, he stressed the need for the East African region to come up with a similar exhibition that help the region compete at an international level.