SKAL is an international association of tourism and travel professionals founded in 1934. The 78th SKAL world congress took place India in October, bringing together 600 delegates from 85 countries to promote global tourism.
After a successful bid to host the event back in 2016, Kenya was selected to host the 79th edition of the congress in Mombasa, between 17th and 21st October 2018.
Aside from the direct benefits for accommodation, travel and leisure facilities occasioned by the increased number of international visitors expected into the country, what other benefits can this global gathering bring to Kenya and our tourism sector?
By hosting this year’s event, India not only brought the world to the city of Hyderabad but additionally broadcast Hyderabad to the world. With global media partners covering the event, the congress provided an unrivaled platform to promote tourism offerings in the area. Over 30 exhibitors were also invited along to showcase their products to the hundreds of delegates in attendance. While some of the exhibitors were from the Hyderabad area, several were from other regions in the country, giving congress attendees a comprehensive perspective of what makes India a great travel destination. Delegates were further immersed in the local cuisine.
Aside from destination marketing, 15 cities each from India and the USA further signed a memorandum of understanding to share best practices in travel and tourism, being the first time in SKAL’s history that such agreements were exchanged. Aside from the creation of such new relationships and networks, the event also saw the launch of a young SKAL club, as well as boosting activity in other SKAL clubs across the country.
The 79th SKAL Congress presents a huge opportunity to boost Kenya tourism through marketing, knowledge exchange, partnerships and investment. With the right partners working alongside the local SKAL chapter organizing committee, there is no reason why Kenya can not reap similar benefits and more.
Such partners may include The Tourism Ministry, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), Brand Kenya, County tourism departments, Kenya Investment Board, Tourism Finance Corporation, Tourism Fund, Kenya Tourism Federation, Kenya Association of Travel Agents, the Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers, Kenya Utalii College, international media and a host of private sector players.
Mombasa is Kenya’s second largest city and whilst the host city for the event, it will provide an ideal global platform to expound on the country’s diversified tourism offerings. This year has seen KTB launch campaigns to promote lakeside, sport, adventure, wedding and MICE tourism, in a bid to grow from the classic beach and bush tourism Kenya has long been associated with. Aside from the magical white sandy beaches, Mombasa is also rich in marine wildlife, history, culture, crafts, music and cuisine.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), tourism currently contributes approximately 10% to the Kenya economy and employs approximately 9% of the total workforce. With the right partnerships and resources, these numbers can be improved.
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