Kenyan tour firms fault State’s South Africa expo snub  14th May 2018

Kenyan tourism companies that attended the just-ended South Africa’s travel marketing platform Travel Indaba have faulted the government’s decision to stay away this year.

Travel agents said they pay high rates to participate when Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) fails to attend, a situation that saw all tour operators miss the Durban event that started on Monday and ran for three days.

Patrick Maina Kamanga, a travel agent based in Mombasa, said tour operators knew early that KTB was not going to show up. “No tour operator was at Indaba this year; they knew KTB was not coming here”.

Private players said various costs are at commercial rates, almost double the discounted rates negotiated country-to-country. Air fare, meals and accommodation, and show stands, Hillary Langat, a tours manager with Hemingways Expeditions, said are some of the key expenditures at travel fairs.

For instance, he said Hemingways paid 1,900 pounds for a stand which would be at half price under the KTB cover.

 “It was a poor show that KTB did not participate. If they can’t come to such a meeting of many hosted buyers, then what else are they doing?” he asked, adding that on the flip side, the small number of Kenyan firms was a blessing in disguise as he clinched many deals.

It was also difficult playing the government role, Mr Kamanga said, when questions that required government response were pushed his way at the ministerial conference when the event was being launched on May 7.

“I was embarrassed at the ministerial conference being asked why Kenya pulled out,” Mr Kamanga said.

Mr Mulei Muia, the spokesperson of the Tourism Ministry, said this week that Kenya reconsidered its appearances in the fairs because there was no value for money. In the future, Mr Mulei said, Kenya would appear at ITB Berlin—the biggest such show in the world—”and a couple others” but ruled out presence at the World Travel Market of London, the number-two tourism marketing gathering globally.

South African Tourism CEO Sisa Ntshona played down the issue, saying other countries may be focusing on other sectors, not necessarily tourism. “It’s voluntary to attend Indaba,” he said in his wrap-up press briefing Thursday. A day earlier, he had said Kenya—one of the top five tourism countries in Africa—was always on the radar of South Africa.


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