Kenya will host two major tourism events in October as a way of profiling the East African country as a priority destination.
The World Travel Awards (WTA) Africa region event will be held on Oct. 16 and will soon be followed by the third edition of the Magical Travel Kenya Expo (MTKE) scheduled on Oct. 18-20.
"The two events are some of the short term activities that will stir demand for Kenya and thereby increasing our tourist arrivals and are coming at a time when Kenya is being celebrated for conducting a peaceful general election last March," the Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie said during the launch of key events in Nairobi on Monday.
"The two events are some of the milestones Kenya will celebrate as the country turns 50 years since independence as we take stock and commemorate the rebirth of our nation."
The Cabinet Secretary said the WTA awards, which are open to those in the tourism and hospitality industry, provide an opportunity for each player to be acknowledged, rewarded and celebrated for their achievements in respective and unique contributions to the hospitality and travel sector.
Over 70 institutions in Kenya have already been nominated for the 25 categories that will be contested in the final awards.
Established in 1993, the World Travel Awards reward and celebrate the enormous achievements in all sectors of the global travel industry, which travel professionals and their clients have come to regard as best endorsement that any travel product can achieve.
Other regional events will be held in Dubai (UAE), the Maldives, Antigua, Turkey, Peru and Singapore throughout the year, culminating with the Grand Finale in November in Las Vegas, USA.
Kandie said though there was a drop in arrivals by two per cent last year due to reasons ranging from the euro zone crisis to uncertainty posed by the general election and perceived insecurity among others, she was certain the trend will be reversed this year.
"Tourism remains one of the key economic pillars of Kenya and the recent unveiling of the Tourism Act, which seeks to among others put in place an effective system to manage the sector, will revitalize and maximize on the full potential of the industry in contributing economic growth."
The Managing Director, Kenya Tourist Board (KTB), Muriithi Ndegwa said the Magical Kenya Travel Expo has continues to attract international buyers as well as local and regional exhibitors alike and is gradually carving its position as a key travel trade show in the global arena. "This year, KTB is targeting about 150 international travel agents and tour operators, collectively known as the buyers, to establish contact, sample the innovative products showcased by exhibitors and generate business."
Over 90 exhibitors are expected to register including those from hotels and hotel chains, resorts and lodges, airlines, car- hire companies, and conferencing venues.
About 150 buyers from Kenya's key source markets in Europe, Asia, America and the Middle East are expected to participate at the Expo whose objectives include positioning and showcasing Kenya as an up-market, high-value destination offering unparalleled diversity of tourism experience in addition to celebrating the achievements of destination Kenya beyond the tourism agenda.
Tourism is the second largest source of foreign exchange revenue for Kenya after tea, with the main tourist attractions being photo safaris through 19 national parks and game reserves, though the country has been diversifying to other areas like eco- tourism, conference tourism and cultural tourism.
Revenues from tourism soared by 32 percent in 2011 to 1.2 billion U.S. dollars as high-spending arrivals from the United Arab Emirates, China and India made up for a fall in visitors from its traditional European markets.
Total arrivals in 2011 rose by 15.4 percent to 1.26 million, slightly fewer that the 1.3 million Kenya had targeted.