The Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE 2020) scheduled to take place later in the year in October, has been cancelled until further notice. In an email sent this evening, the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), the main organisers of the event cited the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world as the reason for the cancellation.

MKTE is one of the largest travel shows in the East African region. Last year over 200 exhibitors from Africa met with over 150 global buyers from 25 of Kenya’s key source markets. This year would have been the event’s 10th edition since its inception. KTB has said it will communicate an alternative date.

The three-day show is usually a mix of exhibitions, seminars, presentations and networking events that pulls East Africa’s tourism leaders, policymakers, leading tourism products, global buyers and media. MKTE 2020 joins a growing list of events around the world that have either been cancelled indefinitely or converted to online streaming or teleconferencing events as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

With the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 standing at over three million worldwide, no one is taking chances with large gatherings. Kenya has so far reported 466 confirmed cases with 24 fatalities. The country is still under a curfew with a Nairobi metropolitan lockdown.

A UNWTO report on travel restrictions says 83% of global destinations have introduced travel restrictions in response to COVID-19. The report says about 97 destinations have entirely or partially locked their borders to tourists. A further 39 restrict certain tourists depending on the country of origin.

Statista is a Humburg-based provider of market and consumer data. They have just released their Mobility Market Outlook on COVID-19. They estimate the global revenue for the travel and tourism industry will fall to USD 447.4 billion in 2020. The fall, they say, will be a decrease of around 34.7% from 2019. They further warn that the industry will see a loss of 75.2 million jobs worldwide during this period.

We have participated in the last three MKTEs including MKTE 2019 and MKTE 2018. We were looking forward to attending this year’s event as well. From the look of things now, this is very likely the end of MKTE 2020. We might as well start planning for MKTE 2021!