NEW TOURISM MINISTER SAYS 5 BILLION SHILLINGS NEEDED FOR MARKETING KENYA
(New tourism minister Danson Mwazo [left] and the former office holder Najib Balala [right])
At the handover from Hon. Najib Balala who had fallen victim to party politics and paid the price for standing up against his chairman Prime Minister Odinga to the newly appointed tourism minister Danson Mwazo smiles were put on display for the cameras, but the words that followed made it clear that it was not business as usual at the ministry. Balala has already cautioned that 2012 would be at best a year of consolidation, following a record sectoral performance in 2011 with over 98 billion Kenya Shillings in earning and a record number of tourist visitors recorded at airports, the Mombasa port and land borders. The new minister was swift to promise he would ask the treasury for the equivalent of 5 percent of the sectoral annual earnings to be ploughed back into the industry for marketing, product development and for targeted sectoral support, a figure with could amount to 5 billion Kenya Shillings, if only the treasury would be able to follow this logic and comply. In past years, inspite of Balalas considerably persuasive skills, the Kenya Tourist Board always got less than asked for and had to adjust action programmes and visible presence from a global scale to existing, new and emerging markets selected for their potential to immediately pay back with significant visitor number increases.
That said, opportunities are there to target new markets as Korean Air is commencing flights into Nairobi in April as is the Gulfs third largest airline Etihad, all of which will do their own promotion and marketing to fill their seats and which will undoubtedly complement the efforts of KTB and the Kenyan tourism private sector. In addition will national airline Kenya Airways push ahead with a fleet expansion which will see new destinations in Africa and beyond come on line soon, which should also stimulate traffic and bring more visitors to the country. For now though, the new minister has his work cut out for him to restore confidence amongst the stakeholders, many of whom today at the launch of the e-Tourism Conference in Nairobi expressed strong sentiments about the change of guard at the helm of the tourism ministry at such a crucial moment in time, as the country counts down to a general and presidential election and struggles with sluggish market performances from the traditional markets like Britain, where a press release earlier in the week by Hayes and Jarvis painted a grim picture of forward bookings. Watch this space.
E-TOURISM CONFERENCE KICKS OFF AT INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL NAIROBI
The third East African e-Tourism Conference, sponsored by the InterContinental Hotel Nairobi, The Kenya Commercial Bank, VISA and the Kenya Tourist Board has gone underway today in Kenyas capital Nairobi, with over 200 attendees filling the conference room to the brim. Keynote speaker on opening was IHGs Karl Hala, Director of Operations for Africa, as the Minister for Tourism in view of the recent cabinet changes was unable to attend what would have been Danson Mwazos first opportunity to meet the who is who in the tourism industry and make an introductory impact on them. Others speaking during the opening session were KTBs CEO Muriithi, Damian Cook of e-Tourism Frontiers, then followed by Richard Trillo of Rough Guides whose publications have become a must read handbook for visitors to Kenya.
Other key presentations during the morning sesson were made by Victoria Delaney of TripAdvisor, Sally Broom of tripbod and Louise Dreisig of Expedia, bringing key international e-commerce leaders into the room and sharing their expertise and insights of how best to tap into the fast growing social media segment of marketing services and products and catapult the tourism industry in East Africa truly into the 21st century.
2 tightly packed days, inclusive of networking sessions over tea breaks and lunches, are now unfolding and an attentive audience is already glued to the multimedia presentations with questions and answer sessions showing just how keen the interest is amongst leading Kenyan stakeholders to adopt and embrace the new technologies and make an impact via the social networks.
The afternoon session was started with a 90 minute presentation and Q&A session by Justin Reid of betapond. Justin, the former head of digital services at Visit Britain was sharing his own work experience at one of the most visible tourism promotion bodies in the world while then giving hand on advice on how to create, build and manage a Facebook campaign for tourism businesses.
After the coffee break came two more captivating presentations from Rob McLean of SATPACK and by Michelle Vickers of RAS MBISI, a unique bare foot lodge on Mafia Island, located in the Indian Ocean off the Tanzanian mainland. Michelle has embraced e-marketing via social media her main focus of promoting travel to Mafia island and by the look of it that strategy worked for her as Ras Mbisi has topped the TripAdvisor rankings persistently, earning her global recognition and attention.
A number of Kenyan and international speakers will make the programme for Friday when in particular case studies in a hands on fashion will be presented and discussed with participants to give them the understanding and skills to refocus their own companies marketing and presence on the social media.
Visit www.e-tourismfrontiers.com for more details or follow Damien on Twitter via @daminacook or on Facebook via www.facebook.com/etourismfrontiers
SKAL KAMPALA RE-ELECTS KAINEMBABAZI SABITI TO ANOTHER TERM
The annual general meeting last evening of the Skal Club of Kampala saw Kainembabazi Sabiti re-elected as club president for another term of office. In her work life Kaine is General Manager for Amadeus in Uganda, also overseeing Rwanda and Burundi. Vice President is James Rattos, Director of Sales and Marketing at the Kampala Sheraton Hotel and Club Secretary for the new year will be the Seychelles Tourism Ambassador to Uganda and Managing Director of UTB / Express Travel Pearl Hoareau. The membership also elected Mohit Advani as Treasurer, returned Marinka Sanc George as Programme Director for a sterling job done as always, and Mani Khan of Marasa Africa was elected a committee member again alongside Monalisa Aman and the former German Ambassador to Uganda Klaus Holderbaum, who is now a Senior Presidential Advisor to President Museveni.
Congratulations to the new office holders and SKAL to all.