Kenya pulls out of arguably Africa’s biggest trade show citing little value for money

Kenya, represented by the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) skipped the 2018 Travel Indaba showcase in South Africa, which is among the most attended tourism marketing events in Africa. 2017 figures peg exhibitors’ attendance at 1,000, with 7,000 delegates and up to 20,000 meetings held over the 3-day event.

The pull out by KTB left industry practitioners who decided to attend on their own, to pay hiked fees on accommodation, the show stands, travel etc. due to the absence of intergovernmental negotiated rates; that is normally enjoyed when tour operators attend under the umbrella of KTB.

“It is disappointing that Kenya Tourism Board is not here to represent Kenya as an attractive destination when 22 African countries including small tourism economies are present. Their Absence sends a very wrong message about our destinations,” said Kenya Association of Travel Agents CEO Nicanor Sabula.

A stand at the Indaba Travel show in South Africa
Image from

A change in strategy by the Kenya Tourism Board as reported by the Business Daily, has Kenya also pulling out of the World Travel Market of London, instead, opting to only attend the ITB Berlin tourism trade fair and a couple others that are yet to be known. The pull out is attributed to a lack of return on the investment made at trade shows.

How such marketing events work is that different service-providers and in this case, countries, showcase their unique experiences and products that they can offer tourists. The shows are frequented by tourism agents from all over the world, who are often the main source of advice on the best travel destinations for tourists.

Impressions and connections made at such shows are often hoped to result in increased business back at home, however, sometimes that doesn’t happen as seems to be the case with Kenya whose international tourist arrivals in 2017 stood at 1.4 million, a 9.8 percent improvement from 2016’s figures. South Africa on the other hand, the host of the Indaba Travel show had 10.3 million foreign tourists in the same year. Kenyan tourism has a long way to go in order to catch up with the best in the continent, and a consistent, well-researched review of strategy is a step in the right direction.


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