Nairobi, these past few days, has been basking in the spotlight of MKTE 2018. In case you missed the memo, the annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) is arguably the largest travel trade show in East Africa. As MKTE 2018 came to a close at the KICC yesternight, it did so in a spectacular display of fireworks.
This year, 185 exhibitors converged at the largest MICE facility in East Africa to lay bare their travel offerings. In fact, you would not be very far from the truth if you imagined the proverbial travel bug was unusually high in the city. How could it not be with all those fam trips across Kenya happening days before the expo?
Hosted buyers and the media were treated to a number of itineraries including a safari to the Amboseli, the home of Africa’s last Tuskers. Here, they got the rare chance of participating in the naming of a few of these mighty terrestrial giants before heading back to Nairobi, just in time to catch the start, on the 2nd, of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) which was happening alongside the 3-day expo.
For 3 days, high calibre business leaders from the international and local markets met for the AHIF to discuss investment into tourism projects, infrastructure and hotel development across Africa at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi’s Upper Hill.
While AHIF was going on, MKTE was just gathering momentum at the KICC. Besides hosting the largest exhibition since its inception, a series of themed seminars were taking place throughout the day. Topics ranged from infrastructure development and delivering exceptional visitor experience to the role digital travel platforms will play in shaping future travel.
This year’s MKTE was unique in the sense that hosted media and hosted buyers were allowed the flexibility to choose their fam trip itinerary unlike in the past. For the first time also at the Expo, a number of counties were in attendance to showcase their travel assets.
Apparently, MKTE 2018 had a mobile app to aid visitors to navigate around the expo and easily keep tabs on which stand was where. It was also meant to help delegates diarise their day so they knew when an event they were interested in would take place. I gather the app’s uptake was not that good.
The Chefs Delight stand proved a particularly popular destination for most visitors who stopped by to sample some of Kenya’s finest cuisines on offer. I wonder whether, from the looks on their faces, they were aware, before venturing, that the delicacies were not entirely free because at the end of that taste bud titillating meal was a review requirement!
An ongoing awards program, the Chefs Delight rewards restaurants and establishments in Kenya as well as restaurant enthusiasts. According to its website, its mission is to establish a demand for perfection, creativity as well as improvement in quality, consistency and delivery from fine dining restaurants in Kenya.
The program treats diners to better fine dining as well as an opportunity to explore many cuisines the region has to offer. The end result is an increase in restaurant revenue through marketing and awareness hence developing loyalty.
MKTE 2018 could not have been complete without the traditional African cultural artefacts which varied from wooden picture frames, beadworks and carvings to paintings.
The stand from the Samburu people was especially interesting with a number of traditional items including gourds on display.
A range of African wearables and bags made from the famous Kikoy fabric was also on display for sale.
The Safari road masters were, of course, there to showcase their latest transport technologies and boy did they wow everyone!
The 2018 Magical Kenya Travel Expo, once again, proved to be a powerful B2B event for industry players to connect and do business. Going forward, MKTE will now become the flagship event for Kenya Tourism Week. It will henceforth go by the name the Kenya Tourism Festival. See you in 2019!