40th Africa Travel and Tourism Associations Annual World Congress, Nairobi.

The 40th Africa Travel and Tourism Association’s Annual World Congress returns to Nairobi this week with a new agenda revolving around diverse topics affecting the travel industry.

The five-day event, themed “Experiencing Magical Kenya” is hosted by Ministry of East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism on November 9 -15, 2015 at the popular Kenya International Conference Center. Scheduled among other events is a Tourism Ministers’ Round table on destination perception and crisis management as well as a forum on attracting investment in the sector.

Another important topic lined up for discussion will tackle on online travel market place in a powerful panel led by Damian Cook – CEO & Founder, E-Tourism Frontiers. The five member panel discussion will touch on issues pertaining to adaptation and implementation of the online travel solutions in the African context, the OTA’s mandate and maximizing on the opportunities within the World Wide Web. As Estelle Verdier the Managing Director for Jovago.com and a key speaker in this session notes, “it all starts with a change in perception” According to the director, players should maximize on the power of the social media to package and sell travel as a needful human experience as opposed to a non-affordable luxury. The Panel will also bring in insights from other leaders such as Roni Weiss, a social media/marketing consultant and the co-founder of #TTOT (Travel Talk on Twitter) a leading travel chat on the platform. Expedia’s area manager Ross Kata will share his insights in online retail and destination experience while Alastair Curtis, Uber’s launcher in Africa will also take a lead part in the discussion.

Online travel marketing takes into account more than just the actual ticket booking to include other aspects such as price comparison, hotel reviews and on-ground transport purchase that take place online. According to the World internet statistics, around 40% of the world population has an internet connection; this means that with every passing day, an increasing number of travelers will opt to do their basic or primary travel research using the internet as opposed to more traditional ways.

One cannot fail to note the prolific growth of the internet; from a meager 1% in 1995 to a staggering and rapidly growing 40% in just 20 years; the internet finally hit its third billion in 2014. Cisco® predicts that global mobile data traffic will increase 10-fold in 2014-2019, with close to a million minutes of video content forecast to cross the network by 2019.

This globalized dimension only points to one thing; leaders must change the way they do business and adapt to the growing globalized dimension of the new world.

Another major discussion will revolve around wildlife conservation and preservation dubbed safeguarding Africa’s Jewels. This comes at a time when the world is grappling with a growing menace in illegal ivory trade and a near extinct rhino population. A new report by WildAid, an international non-governmental organization with a mandate to exposed how complacent trade laws are fuelling illegal smuggling of ivory tusks into world’s legal and licensed markets. Paul Kahumbu of “Hands off our Elephant” campaign will moderate the five panelists in an undoubtedly emotional discussion seeking to shed light on the topic as well as explore new ideas.

ATA returns to Nairobi, its city of origin every 10 years in honor of the inaugural event that took place in the Kenyan capital 20 years ago. This year’s congress will also see delegates visit the country’s tourist destinations such as Lake Nakuru National Park, OlPejeta Conservancy, Karen Blixen Museum among others.

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